This Labor Day, New Yorkers planning outdoor celebrations may notice a high-tech addition to the festivities: drones. The NYPD is deploying these unmanned aircraft to monitor large gatherings and potential disturbances during the holiday weekend. While this aims to enhance public safety, concerns about privacy and surveillance have arisen.
The drones will assist in assessing noise complaints and responding to non-emergency 311 calls before officers physically arrive at the scene. This innovative approach aims to optimize the allocation of police resources, ensuring officers are dispatched only when truly needed.
Assistant Commissioner Kaz Daughtry highlighted the advantages of this technology. “We will determine how many resources we need to send to that location for this weekend,” Daughtry explained. “This allows us to respond effectively to community needs.”
This deployment coincides with the 56th annual West Indian American Day parade and J’Ouvert festival, known for its vibrant and lively atmosphere. The drones will complement the thousands of officers stationed across the city throughout the holiday weekend, assisting in assessing complaints and prioritizing responses.
NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell issued a strong message to potential wrongdoers, emphasizing that police presence will be both visible and concealed.
The NYPD has been increasingly using drones investing significantly in this technology. Mayor Eric Adams is interested in expanding the use of drones taking inspiration from Israel’s implementation of this technology.
Privacy and tech strategist Daniel Schwarz from the New York Civil Liberties Union has expressed these concerns highlighting the misuse of surveillance tools. Schwarz has voiced his worry by stating, “It’s worrisome. We’ve seen these tools being used to monitor and surveil protest activities, which can impact people.”
These drones can be assets in police operations such as managing hostage situations or monitoring crowds. With their real time HD video capabilities, night vision functionality, and thermal scanning abilities they improve both officer safety and effectiveness.
The concept of deploying drones as responders to 911 calls is currently under exploration. This raises questions, about privacy safeguards and oversight. Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks, the chair of the public safety committee stresses the importance of using this technology in a manner, in emergency situations and instances that impact public safety.