Three high-tech devices, two of them robots, are joining the ranks of the NYPD.
“We have maximized public and officer safety through emerging technology, and that approach continues today,” NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell during a press conference in Times Square Tuesday.
One of the devices is the K5 autonomous security robot, which will patrol designated areas, according to law enforcement. Officials described it’s movement akin to that of a Roomba vacuum.
“The K5 uses artificial intelligence to provide real-time incident notifications to first responders,” said NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey.
The next device is the StarChase GPS tracking system. It comes in a handheld form, or attached to a vehicle. Officers can use it to launch GPS trackers on cars they’re trying to stop, instead of engaging them in a chase.
Police recently used it to make an arrest for a stolen car in Queens.
The final device is the Digidog. The four-legged robot will be sent into dangerous situations, allowing officers to assess and respond from a distance, according to Mayor Eric Adams.
“If you have a barricaded suspect, you have someone that's inside a building that is armed,” Adams said during the news conference. “Instead of sending police officers in there, you send Digidog inside there.”
The Digidog may seem familiar. That’s because it was introduced during the de Blasio administration. The contract, however, was cut short after strong criticism. After the announcement, criticisms are pouring in once again.
On a social media page for the Mayor’s Office, one person commented, “Can we feed and shelter the homeless?”
“We don’t need this, we need our libraries,” wrote another user.
The cost of the new tech is part of the controversy as city agencies are being told to reduce their budgets by 4%.
The Legal Aid Society criticized the announcement in a statement.
"Mayor Adams continues to pour money into the NYPD’s bloated budget, enabling police to impose new, dystopian surveillance technologies throughout the city without meaningfully engaging New Yorkers in a conversation about whether this is how we want to live."
According to officials, the $770,000 project is funded with forfeiture money and existing NYPD funding, not new money being allocated to the department.
All the devices will be operated by officers who are specially trained and part of the Techinical Assistance Response Unit, otherwise known as TARU, police say.
The pilot program is expected to launch in the summer and last for seven months.