NYPD to Begin Using Chinese Drones in Response to 911 Calls

In several parts of New York City, the first response to a shooting or other serious crime reported to 911 will soon be to launch a drone.

The “Drone as First Responder” program will be tested in five NPYD precincts,  NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry told the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security on Thursday, according to the New York Daily News.

The precincts – three in Brooklyn, one in the Bronx and one covering Central Park — were picked “based on recent crime trends,” he explained.

Precinct buildings will have two drone platforms on their roofs. The pilot will be based at the NYPD Joint Operations Center in lower Manhattan, Daughtry said.

The drones will also respond to ShotSpotter alerts from microphones made to detect gunshots.


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NYPD will be “testing drones’ ability to respond autonomously to alerts from the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system,” a police representative said, according to the Daily News.

“Police officers already receive ShotSpotter alerts as they do other assignments: Over their police radios and on their NYPD-issued smartphones, with information that includes the time and location of the gunfire. The system will now additionally send the longitude and latitude of gunfire” to the drones, the representative said.

Drones will fly to the shooting location “prior to the officers’ arrival on the scene. Officers will see what the drone sees in real time via their smartphones,” the representative said.

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Daughtry said the information relayed to officers “will enhance officers’ situational awareness as they arrive on scene, promote officer safety, and help us deploy resources more effectively.”

At the hearing, the use of Chinese-made Shenzhen DJI Innovation Technology drones was questioned, according to the cyber news website The Record.

The FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have said the drones are a “significant risk” to critical infrastructure.

“The extensive deployment of Chinese manufactured drones in U.S. critical sectors is a national security concern and it may increase the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive systems and data,” Republican Rep. August Pfluger of Texas said, according to The Record.

Daughtry said the department will begin buying American-made drones, but said he has told American companies that the Chinese drones “perform better than your drones.”


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“They have capabilities that locals can’t offer on that cost-by-cost basis and we’re talking about a weapon or a tool that our frontliners need to protect our lives,” Daughtry said.

The move was not welcomed by Daniel Schwarz of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“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. How is that footage access, used, shared, retained, I think there’s a lot of outstanding questions,” he said, according to WPIX-TV.

In response to privacy issues, Daughtry said, “What level of expectation are you expected to have inside a park, a public park, a public street?”

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