The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has announced they have an arsenal of 14 drones they will use to help monitor the city. The drones will operate under the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) program.
NYPD says licensed NYPD officers of the Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU) will operate the drones under a range of scenarios including search and rescue missions, accessing crime scenes or investigating hazardous material incidents.
The program has fourteen Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV’s) or drones including eleven DJI Mavic Pro quadcopters, two DJI M210 RTK quadcopters, and one DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter.
NYPD follow the lead of police depts across the globe
"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," said Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill.
"Our new UAS program is part of this evolution – it enables our highly-trained cops to be even more responsive to the people we serve, and to carry out the NYPD's critical work in ways that are more effective, efficient, and safe for everyone."
The NYPD was quick to emphasize that the drones will not be used to monitor people not will they be used to search portraits without permission.
The drones will not be armed and will have no way of injuring or physically stopping citizens.
'Mission Creep' worries justice observers
The NYPD claim there are more than 900 other state and local police, fire and emergency units across the United States with UAVs.
In their press announcement of the program, the department says they met with many other units who operate drones for advice and training before their own program began.
The use of drones by law enforcement is controversial and opens the possibility of ‘mission creep’, a term that describes drones being used for one purpose but slowing creeping into other more sinister applications.
Drones prohibited from searching without a warrant
NYPD has issued a list of ‘unacceptable uses’ of the drones. These uses include:
Immobilizing Vehicles or Suspects,
Never Used as a Weapon or Equipped with a Weapon,
Search without a warrant.
UAVs are still an emerging technology and their regulation is still being formed.
Many ask the question who will police the police’s use of drones?
Donovan Richards, chairman of New York City’s council committee on public safety, Told the New York Times that the committee is concerned about the program and would pursue safeguard legislation to prevent police from using the drones to infringe on citizens rights.