NYPD will deploy drones to respond to 911 calls in 5 NYC precincts, officials say


The NYPD has plans to have drones respond to select 911 calls in five New York City police precincts — including Central Park, officials said at a hearing on Thursday.


The department will outfit precinct rooftops with drone platforms, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry said. Daughtry dubbed the pilot program “drones as first responders,” adding that drones would respond to “certain” 911 calls, though he did not specify for which emergency situations they might be used.


The NYPD has 85 drones in its fleet, according to Daughtry, though it was not clear if the new program would add to that total. Police did not say which precincts would first see the flying robots, but said officials chose them based on recent crime trends.

The department recently used some of those drones while responding to the region’s 4.8 magnitude earthquake in April to inspect the structural integrity of buildings and bridges, he said.


Police used drones to film and monitor pro-Palestinian protests in Times Square and Bay Ridge in the fall, then turned the footage over to prosecutors to use as evidence in criminal charges against 158 people, Daughtry said at a news conference last year.


They also used drones to measure crowd size at the J’Ouvert and the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn as well as the Electric Zoo festival on Randall’s Island, authorities said.

The decision to include Central Park in the pilot program comes after the department recently upped its presence in the park following a recent string of robberies.


Using drones as first responders helps keep officers safe, Daughtry said in his testimony, evoking a fatal police shooting last year in which police sent drones into the apartment of an armed man reported to be in mental distress.


Police officials will monitor the live footage from the NYPD’s Joint Operations Center at police headquarters in Lower Manhattan and feed information to officers on the scene, Daughtry said. You can read more here.


The use of technology in our lives and business is a topic that we are particularly interested in following. We will continue to keep you informed. 


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Stacey Froelich 

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