You’ve probably heard about the incredible effectiveness of military predator drones at killing terrorists, as well as civilians who are unlucky enough to live in or near war zones overseas, but did you know there are plans to deploy drones in the Big Apple to keep an eye on New Yorkers?
Surveillance cameras already watch over just about corner of the city’s most populous streets, but evidence points to the NYPD wanting to expand that watchful eye even more.
A website named Gay City News posted an e-mail it says it acquired through the Freedom of Information Act that is purportedly from a detective in the NYPD counterterrorism division, asking the Federal Aviation Administration about the use of unmanned aerial vehicles as a law enforcement tool.
Drones are already being used by law enforcement in other parts of the country.
“We’re always looking at technology,” said NYPD Spokesman Paul Browne. “Drones aren’t that exotic anymore. Brookstone sells them. We’ve looked at them but haven’t tested or deployed any.”
Former NYPD officer Gary Weksler said drones make sense.
“Not only would it be a form of intelligence gathering to protect the public, it also in many respects removes the officers, who might be attempting to identify issues, from harm’s way,” Weksler said.
Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a 16-page report citing the growth of the use of drones and the lack of laws protecting citizens from airborne intrusions.
Just the mere possibility that the city could be looking into the use of drone surveillance aircraft prompted one unknown astute New Yorker to post several official looking NYPD warning signs all over the city with messages like “Attention, authorized drone strike zone” and “Local statutes enforced by drone”
Given the city’s aggressive use of emerging technologies to stay one step ahead of terrorists, security experts say they’d be surprised if it does not pursue further use of drones. Small drone aircraft can cost as little as a few hundred dollars.
According to the New Yorker, those bogus NYPD warning signs were put up by an Iraq War veteran who operated Army drones during the war and objects to their use by civilian police.
What was that Ben Franklin said again? Something about sacrificing liberty for security?