The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is launching a drone program with 14 aircraft that will be operated by FAA-licensed officers of the Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU). TARU provides the NYPD with specialized investigative equipment and tactical support and has developed an expertise in audio/visual technology that is used to recover surveillance video, record police action at large-scale demonstrations and arrests, and provide live video to incident commanders during emergencies.
"As the largest municipal police department in the United States, the NYPD must always be willing to leverage the benefits of new and always improving technology," said Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill. "Our new UAS program is part of this evolution; it enables our highly trained cops to be even more responsive to the people we serve, and to carry out the NYPD's critical work in ways that are more effective, efficient, and safe for everyone."
The fleet will consist of 11 DJI Mavic Pro quadcopters; two larger DJI all-weather M210 RTK quadcopters fitted with a 30x zoom camera, thermal imaging capabilities and 3-D mapping that will be used for search and rescue; and one DJI Inspire 1 to be used for training. The NYPD emphasized that the drones would not be used for routine patrol, traffic enforcement, or warrantless searches. Rather the department said the aircraft would only be flown for search and rescue, accident and crime scene documentation, evidence search at large or inaccessible locations, hazmat incidents, traffic, and pedestrian monitoring at large events, and to provide assistance at hostage/barricade situations.