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NYPD to use drones for 911 calls in pilot program

The NYPD will soon expand its crime-fighting efforts with the Drone as First Responder (DFR) pilot program. Announced by NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Operations Kaz Daughtry, the program will deploy drones in response to certain 911 calls for serious crimes that are occurring, such as shootings, robberies and missing persons.

Image: NYC.gov

Drones will be launched from five precincts: the 48th precinct in the Bronx, the 67th, 71st and 75th precincts in Brooklyn and Central Park. They will provide real-time video and telemetry to officers, increasing situational awareness and safety. Daughtry stated, “The information provided by DFR will be shared with responding officers. (It) will increase officers’ situational awareness as they arrive on scene, promote officer safety and help us deploy resources more effectively.”

The NYPD currently uses 85 drones for a variety of tasks, including monitoring major events and inspecting structural stability after accidents. Despite a 400% increase in drone use last year, Daughtry stressed they cannot be used for “warrantless surveillance” or “traffic enforcement.”

“The plan, which will be rolled out in the coming months, is to deploy these drones in response to certain 911 calls for service,” Daughtry said. He added that the program would start with four precincts in Brooklyn and the Bronx, chosen “based on recent crime trends.”

The drones will be launched from the roofs of station buildings in the District, with pilots operating from the NYPD headquarters. “The information provided by DFR will be shared with responding officers,” Daughtry said. “(It) will increase officers’ situational awareness as they arrive on scene, promote officer safety and help us deploy resources more effectively.”