The future of nonlethal crimefighting is here — and progressives and civil libertarians are losing their minds.
Back on May 6, FBI agents, armed with a search warrant, flew a surveillance drone inside a gun suspect’s apartment in upstate Poughkeepsie. According to court documents, feds used the nonlethal drone to direct those in the home to exit immediately. The drone’s video feed allegedly caught one of three persons inside the apartment tossing a 9mm handgun out of a window. No one in the apartment or any law enforcement officer was injured during the execution of the warrant.
“Flying drones in public air space is invasive enough, but using it inside of a person’s home is completely unconstitutional,” fumed Albert Fox Cahn, a civil-liberties advocate.
No: If officers have the legal right to enter themselves, then sending in an unarmed robot is just as kosher — and safer for everyone.
In New York City, the NYPD’s testing of an advanced robotics “Digidog” was slammed by alarmists and naysayers like Cahn over supposed privacy concerns. City cops first used Digidog to find a gunman hiding in a Brooklyn basement last October, but only when video of the device trotting on a Bronx sidewalk went viral in February did it spark “Black Mirror” comparisons and fury from hysterical pols — pressure that prompted brass to cancel the $94,000 testing contract in April after just seven months.
The NYPD saw the 70-pound Digidog (equipped with lights, two-way communication and video cameras) as a tool to help reduce police and civilian risks of bodily harm. Cops deployed Digidog to the scene of a tense home invasion/hostage situation in the Wakefield section of The Bronx in February and to the site of a domestic dispute at East 28th Street in Manhattan in April.
They didn’t actually send in the mechanical mutt either time, but this shows how the device would be used: to allow reconnaissance and communication in situations where sending in an armed human poses risks to police and civilians.
Yet Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) railed on Twitter about a “robotic surveillance ground drone” being tested in “low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools.” City Council candidate Tiffany Cabán chimed in that it’s “absolutely abhorrent” that the city can spend over $70,000 on such tech while “agencies across the city that deliver essential services and programs are facing cuts.” The deathblow was likely Mayor Bill de Blasio’s words of worry about the unarmed robot.
De Blasio spokesman Bill Neidhardt explained: “If something undermines trust with the community, is it truly serving its mission? I think not.”
No: It wasn’t the tech undermining public trust, but the pandering pols and cranks like Cahn. This isn’t the beginning of Skynet from the “Terminator” films; it’s just giving front-line law-enforcement officers new tools to safely protect and serve the public, reducing the chances for violent confrontations.
And the sooner such tools become a routine part of policing, the better off we’ll all be.