NEW YORK — The NYPD is taking 'protect and serve' to new heights as they introduced their new drone unit Tuesday.
FAA Certified pilots with the Technical Assistance Response Unit or TARU demonstrated some of the ways the unmanned aircrafts will be used for policing moving forward. The drones will help in routine situations like traffic accidents and event planning, but can also give officers a tactical advantage in more serious situations.
"Situations like active shooters where that areal perspective is going to be very valuable to our decision makers that's where this is really going to play a part," said Det. Deepu John.
With 14 drones now part of the arsenal NYPD pilots will now be able to survey dangerous situations to keep not only the public, but their officers safe."
"Our job is to keep New Yorkers safe and this is just another tool that we can deploy," John said.
There are two different types of field drones, a smaller DJI Mavic to navigate through tighter spaces with quicker deployment, and a DJI Quadcopter that has a 30-times zoom lens, with thermal imaging and 3-D mapping capabilities.
But some are worried the new surveillance may be more harm then help. Despite meeting with the New York Civil Liberties Union before launching the new unit, the NYCLU says the drones pose a serious threat to the privacy of New Yorkers.
“The NYPD’s drone policy places no meaningful restrictions on police deployment of drones in New York City and opens the door to the police department building a permanent archive of drone footage of political activity and intimate private behavior visible only from the sky," associate legal director Christopher Dunn said in a statement.
The NYPD has outlined acceptable and unacceptable uses for the drones.
Banned uses include:
• Routine Patrol
• Traffic Enforcement
• Immobilizing Vehicles or Suspects
• As a Weapon or Equipped with a Weapon
• Search without a warrant
"Making sure that we weigh privacy rights as well as safety concerns," said NYPD Chief of Dept. Terrence Monahan.
But, as with most flights, some turbulence is expected.