NYPD eyes ‘pandemic drone’ nixed in Connecticut after backlash

#NYPD eyes ‘pandemic drone’ nixed in Connecticut after backlash

June 6, 2020 | 6:03pm

The NYPD is eyeing a controversial “pandemic drone” that caused so much hysteria in one Connecticut community, cops had to cancel the program.

Residents in Westport successfully grounded Draganfly’s sensor-equipped drone — which can detect fever, temperature, heart and respiratory rates in humans from as far as 190 feet in the air — soon after police announced plans to deploy the “Flatten the Curve” device.

“Towns and the state should be wary of self-interested, privacy-invading companies using COVID-19 as a chance to market their products and create future business opportunities,” the Connecticut ACLU said in response to the proposed program.

But not all feedback was negative. Soon after Westport made its plans public, the NYPD rang.

“They did reach out,” said Westport Lt. Anthony Prezioso. “They spoke to our captain. They were looking for contact information from the person over there [at Draganfly].”

A company spokesman said the NYPD is in “cursory talks” about the drones.

The NYPD confirmed its interest in products by the Canadian-based drone maker, but claimed “there are no plans at this time to purchase this particular product.

“The NYPD regularly reaches out to various police departments and law enforcement agencies to discuss and exchange information regarding best practices and the use of various forms of technology,” Sgt. Jessica McRorie said.

Similar to the reaction in Westport, the NYPD’s deployment of 14 drones in 2018 sparked ire from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which said it has “serious concerns” about the department’s plans to use the aircraft for a variety of reasons.


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