Want to throw a barbecue in NYC this weekend? The NYPD's got you covered - with drones.
According to AP, the city plans to pilot the unmanned aircraft in response to complains about large gatherings over labor day weekend - including private events.
"If a caller states there’s a large crowd, a large party in a backyard, we’re going to be utilizing our assets to go up and go check on the party," said assistant NYPD Commissioner, Kaz Daughtry.
Privacy advocates, and anyone who's not down with bullshit police surveillance, naturally flipped their lid at the announcement.
"It’s a troubling announcement and it flies in the face of the POST Act," said privacy and technology strategist Daniel Schwarz of the NY Civil Liberties Union, referring to a 2020 city law that requires the NYPD to let people know about their surveillance tactics. "Deploying drones in this way is a sci-fi inspired scenario."
The move was announced during a security briefing focused on J’ouvert, an annual Caribbean festival marking the end of slavery that brings thousands of revelers and a heavy police presence to the streets of Brooklyn. Daughtry said the drones would respond to “non-priority and priority calls” beyond the parade route.
Like many cities, New York is increasingly relying on drones for policing purposes. Data maintained by the city shows the police department has used drones for public safety or emergency purposes 124 times this year, up from just four times in all of 2022. They were spotted in the skies after a parking garage collapse earlier this year and when a giveaway event devolved into teenage mayhem. -AP
Mayor Eric Adams, no surprise, wants the NYPD to embrace the "endless" potential of drones, citing Israel's use of them after visiting last week.
Privacy advocates say that regulations aren't sufficient to deploy mass drone surveillance, and opens the door to spying that would be illegal if conducted by a human cop.
"One of the biggest concerns with the rush to roll out new forms of aerial surveillance is how few protections we have against seeing these cameras aimed at our backyards or even our bedrooms," said Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP).
According to the report, approximately 1,400 police departments nationwide are using drones in some form, according to the ACLU.