NYPD is accused of ‘behaving like Big Brother’ and intruding on people’s 1st Amendment rights after announcing it will use DRONES to monitor backyard parties this Labor Day weekend
Drones will be used by the New York City Police Department over Labor Day weekend to monitor backyard parties large gatherings.
Plans to deploy the unmanned aerial vehicles were revealed on Thursday following complaints about disorderly private events.
Assistant NYPD Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said officers would “use our resources” to begin policing parties.
But it caused immediate backlash and sparked privacy fears among civil liberties groups.
There are concerns about whether the use of drones violates existing police surveillance laws.
Drones will be used by New York City police over Labor Day weekend to monitor backyard parties and “large gatherings”
Assistant NYPD Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said officers would “use our resources” to begin policing parties
The plans caused immediate backlash and led to privacy fears among civil liberties groups. There are concerns about whether drones violate existing police surveillance laws
The move was announced during a safety briefing aimed at J’ouvert, taking place Monday.
It is an annual Caribbean festival that marks the end of slavery, bringing thousands of revelers and a heavy police presence to the streets of Brooklyn.
“If a caller says there’s a big crowd, a big party in a backyard, we’ll use our resources to go up and control the party,” Deputy Commissioner Daughtry said at a news conference.
He added that the drones would respond to “non-priority and priority calls” outside the parade route.
But Daniel Schwarz, a privacy and technology strategist at the New York Civil Liberties Union, responded to the proposal to use drones to monitor backyard parties.
“It’s a troubling announcement and it goes against the POST Act,” he said, referring to a 2020 city law requiring the NYPD to disclose its surveillance tactics.
“Deploying drones in this way is a sci-fi inspired scenario.”
Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, said: “One of the biggest concerns in the rush to roll out new forms of aerial surveillance is how little protection we have against seeing these cameras pointed at our backyards or even our bedrooms. .’
He added that city officials need to be more transparent with the public about how police currently use drones, with clear guardrails that prevent oversight in the future.
“Obviously flying a drone over a backyard barbecue is a step too far for many New Yorkers,” Cahn said.
New York increasingly relies on drones for police purposes. Records kept by the city show that police have deployed drones 124 times this year for public safety or emergencies, compared to just four times in all of 2022.
They were seen in the air after a parking garage collapsed earlier this year and when a giveaway event erupted into teen mayhem.
Daniel Schwarz, privacy and technology strategist at the New York Civil Liberties Union, has spoken out about the proposal to use drones to monitor backyard parties
The move was announced during a safety briefing aimed at J’ouvert, taking place Monday. Pictured: J’ouvert carnival parade in Brooklyn last year
Assistant Commissioner Daughtry added that the drones would respond to ‘non-priority and priority calls’ outside the parade route
Mayor Eric Adams, a former police commissioner, has said he wants police to further embrace the “endless” potential of drones, citing Israel’s use of the technology as a blueprint following a visit to the country last week.
But as the technology continues to spread, privacy advocates say regulations have not kept up, opening the door to intrusive surveillance that would be illegal if performed by a human police officer.
The NYPD did not respond to an email asking for more information about its drone policy.
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Mayor Adams shared a link to new guidelines that make it easier for private drone operators to fly in the city.
But they don’t address whether the NYPD has a drone surveillance policy.
According to a recent report from the American Civil Liberty Union, about 1,400 police departments across the country are currently using drones in some form.
Federal rules generally restrict them to flying within the line of sight of the operator, although many departments have requested exemptions.
The report predicted that drone use was “on the verge of exploding” among police forces.