NYPD Commissioner says they are looking into drone use, defends NYPD offices in foreign countries

By End the Lie

NYPD Commissioner Raymond in 2010 (Image credit: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons)

NYPD Commissioner Raymond in 2010 (Image credit: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons)

In a rare public interview, New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Raymond Kelly revealed that the NYPD is “looking into” the use of drones while defending the department’s extensive network of officers placed in a whopping 11 nations around the world. However, Kelly’s comments have been the subject of several contradictory reports.

According to DNAinfo, Kelly cited how drones are already widely used in law enforcement, especially along the border, while admitting that the significant air traffic in New York City could present a challenge.

“The only thing we would do is maybe use the cheap $250 ones to take a look and see the size of the demonstration or something along those lines,” Kelly reportedly said.

Indeed, drones are used across the United States by the military and law enforcement as well as the National Guard and others, spurring lawmakers around the country to propose legislation limiting drone use.

On the drone issue, reports seem to paint completely conflicting images of Kelly’s statements. For instance, DNAinfo reports, “Kelly said the eyes in the sky — which have worried civil rights activists — could prove useful when sizing-up demonstrations, adding to an NYPD arsenal that already includes 3,000 cameras and high-powered anti-aircraft rifles that can shoot down planes.”

“We’re looking into it,” Kelly said during the interview with Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler at the 92nd Street Y, according to DNAinfo. “Anything that helps us.”

However, when reporting on the same public interview, Capital New York reported:

Adler asked repeatedly if Kelly would like to use “drones” and if he was actively looking to acquire one.

“You’re really into this drones [topic],” Kelly said. The audience laughed.

“I want to know on their behalf,” Adler said, prompting more laughter from the audience. “Are you actively looking at it?”

“No,” said Kelly.

New York Magazine also reported, “Adler, touching on additional civil liberties concerns, pressed Kelly on the possibility of drone surveillance. ‘You can go to Brookstone and buy a drone,’ Kelly suggested. When asked whether the NYPD is actively looking into the technology, he shot back, ‘You’re really into these drones,’ to laughs, and then said simply, ‘No.’”

I reported on the NYPD branch in Kfar Saba, Israel last year, although that’s just one of many branches part of the non-transparent International Liaison Program.

“What we wanted to do was to put people in positions where they could sort of act as trip wires or listening posts for the city,” Kelly said. “They’re there primarily to ask the New York questions: Is there anything going on here that can help us better protect New York or we should know about in New York?”

Last year New York Magazine reported that NYPD officers have been stationed in “London, Lyons, Hanburg [sic], Toronto, and Tel Aviv,” while DNAinfo adds Abu Dhabi, Paris and the Dominican Republic.

During the interview, Kelly also claimed that the Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press series on surveillance of Muslims was “totally unfair, unjustified,” while also making the clearly baseless claim that it “was the product, perhaps, of some jealously [sic] in some other agencies.”

Kelly claimed that no laws were ever broken and that the series was “full of mistakes, half-truths, a terrible job […] meant to besmirch and diminish the reputation [of the NYPD.” One must wonder how illegal surveillance conducted far out of the NYPD’s jurisdiction does not break any laws.

There is apparently some confusion about the substance of Kelly’s comments during the public interview and the lack of consistent reporting on the exchange makes the truth that much more difficult to determine.

However, when we’re dealing with the surveillance obsessed NYPD – which is now potentially expanding that surveillance significantly in an attempt to stop mass shootings – the idea of drone use is far from unreasonable, especially given their massive budget.

Did I forget anything or miss any errors? Would you like to make me aware of a story or subject to cover? Or perhaps you want to bring your writing to a wider audience? Feel free to contact me at [email protected] with your concerns, tips, questions, original writings, insults or just about anything that may strike your fancy.

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