911 Calls in NYC Will Soon Draw a New 'First Responder'

NYPD says it plans on deploying drones in response to 'certain' emergency calls
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2024 9:00 AM CDT
NYPD to Soon Deploy Drones in Response to 911 Calls
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Chesky_W)

If you call 911 in New York City in the coming months, drones may show up to assist as the NYPD's newest first responders. Per the New York Daily News, station houses in five precincts—including the one that covers Central Park, as well as three in Brooklyn and one in the Bronx—will outfit their rooftops to launch the drones, with the pilot operating the devices from NYPD headquarters in lower Manhattan. The drones will be deployed starting this summer "in response to certain 911 calls for service," NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry said Thursday at a hearing before the House Committee of Homeland Security. Per PIX11, those "certain" 911 calls would involve a "serious crime in progress," including "shots fired, person shot, robbery, grand larceny, or a missing child." Daughtry said the participating precincts were selected "based on recent crime trends."

"Our most prolific technology-based innovation has been the department's use of drones," Daughtry said, per Gothamist, noting that the NYPD, which now has 85 drones, upped its drone usage by 420% last year, compared to 2022. Not everyone is thrilled with the 911 drones. "It raises serious First and Fourth amendment concerns, chilling of speech and surveillance concerns, and we've seen drones deployed at protests, and I think people are rightly worried," Daniel Schwarz of the New York Civil Liberties Union tells PIX11. "How is that footage access, used, shared, retained—I think there's a lot of outstanding questions." Daughty shrugged off those concerns. "What level of expectation are you expected to have inside a park, a public park, a public street?" He added the NYPD would retain any gathered footage for 30 days, then delete it, unless it's part of a case that police are investigating. (More drones stories.)

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