Civil rights groups are reacting angrily to an announcement from the New York’s Police Department on their plan to deploy 14 new drones around The Big Apple to fight crime.
According to a statement from the NYPD, the United States’ largest police force, they have trained 29 officers to operate the DJI M210 RTK quadcopters.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill told the New York Post: “As the largest municipal police department in the United States, the NYPD must always be willing to leverage the benefits of new and always-improving technology.
What will they be used for?
The department’s drones are expected to be used for crowd monitoring during public events such as concerts and for giving police ‘eyes in the sky’ during hostage situations or crime scene investigations.
The NYPD have told media they do not plan to use the drones to monitor traffic or to surveil New Yorkers but those stipulations have not satisfied civil rights groups.
The Verge reports that New York’s Civil Liberties Union have criticised NYPD’s new drone policy due to its lack of “meaningful restrictions” on the department’s use of the drones. The NYCLU claims that under the NYPD’s current policy, the department could create a permanent archive of all of the footage obtained via drones.
“We believe the new policy falls far short of what is needed to balance the department’s legitimate law-enforcement needs against the privacy interests of New Yorkers.” – NYCLU statement.
In recent years, drones have been adopted by police departments across the United States and internationally.
Last month, we brought you a story from California where one police department started using drones to respond to 911 calls. Four months back, we wrote about how in Florida, a drone helped Daytona Beach police apprehend a suspect after he had tried to hide on a rooftop.
You can watch a clip of the NYPD showing off their new drones to the media below.