Labor Day

NYPD Announces Plan To Use Drone Surveillance Ahead Of Caribbean J’Ouvert Labor Day Event

New York City, don’t be surprised to look up and see a drone crashing your party this Labor Day weekend.

The New York City Police Department announced new drone surveillance in response to large gathering complaints, The Associated Press reports. Using unmanned aircraft, NYPD will monitor all events, including private gatherings and the popular Caribbean carnival celebration J’Ouvert. The festival, which celebrates the end of slavery, brings out thousands of people—and a heavy police presence—to the streets of Brooklyn.

During a press conference, Assistant NYPD Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said the drones would respond to “non-priority and priority calls” past the parade route. If a caller states there’s a large crowd, a large party in a backyard, we’re going to be utilizing our assets to go up and go check on the party,” Daughtry said.

New York isn’t the only city beefing up its drone surveillance. A recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union shows close to 1,400 police departments across the country are using drones in some form or fashion. Federal regulations limit drones to flying within the operator’s line of sight. However, there are some exceptions. According to the data, drone usage will expand dramatically.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams is an avid supporter of drone usage, hoping to see more of it within the department, but privacy experts like the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project’s Executive Director Albert Fox Cahn think drones are a step too far. “One of the biggest concerns with the rush to roll out new forms of aerial surveillance is how few protections we have against seeing these cameras aimed at our backyards or even our bedrooms,” Cahn said.

“Clearly, flying a drone over a backyard barbecue is a step too far for many New Yorkers,” Cahn said.

Surveillance started on Aug. 31 and will last through the Labor Day holiday. According to The Washington Post, the flying drones can broadcast computer-generated voice messages or live messages from an identified NYPD commander. Daughtry pointed out that police drones safely cleared out thousands of parade-goers from Manhattan’s Washington Square Park after the Gay Pride parade in June.

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