The New York City Police Department announced expanded aerial protection of the largest city in the country this week with a new police officer-controlled drone program called the Unmanned Aircraft System.
In a Fox News report Police officials said the drones will be used in search-and-rescue missions, to survey inaccessible crime scenes, a hostage situation, and even hazardous material incidents. The department claims that the drones will not be used for “routine patrols” and will not be equipped with weapons.
According to Hannity.com, Police Department officials say the UAS will allow law enforcement to operate in hard-to-reach crime scenes; including hostage situations, hazardous material incidents, and search and rescue operations.
“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 department plans to deploy at least eleven “small quadcopter drones” in the coming weeks.
The Legal Aid Society came out against the drone program, calling it part of the NYPD’s “unregulated arsenal of surveillance tools.” It warned that it is a dangerous step towards the further militarization of the NYPD.