NYPD Looks to Deploy Drones and Other Non-Human Crime-Fighting Technology

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The NYPD is starting to experiment with new gadgets. The city has budgeted and approved $500,000 for a pilot program which tests gunshot detectors. The audio sensors are attached to police cameras around the city and detect the gunshot sounds. They then pass the location information directly to police officers.

The gunshot detection systems could also be tied in with patrol drones, that could potentially give police a photograph of the shooter. NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has said he is "supportive of the concept of drones, not only for police but for public safety in general." 

“You could see an application where a drone could be not only a very effective crime fighting tool but could actually show you where the bad guys are going leaving the scene,” he said.

“They’re extraordinarily effective,” Bratton said. “The mayor is supportive of it as are many members of the Council. ...The best systems are those that you can tie in with your camera systems. You not only get recording of the gunshots but you get the camera activation right away.”

As for being "extraordinarily effective," well, some detectors still have trouble telling apart gunshot sounds and fireworks. There are certainly some kinks to work out and lots of testing to do before New York City skies are filled with drones. 

There is also the issue of privacy. In Miami, police use drones but are required to get a warrant (or for a life threatening situation to be in progress) to use the drone cameras in an investigation. 

If the NYPD does start using drones, we just hope they don't crash into the Amazon drones delivering our online shopping packages. Drone traffic cops, anyone? 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.