Drones are coming to the nation’s largest police force, and while they may have some seriously helpful applications, civil rights groups worry they could open the door to some Orwellian levels of privacy invasion. The NYPD announced it will start using a fleet of 14 drones: 11 small ones, two large weather-resistant ones with thermal imaging and zoom capabilities, and one testing drone. They’ll be used to document crime scenes and collisions, monitor crowds and traffic at events, gather information at hazardous scenes, and even be used during hostage situations. They won’t be used for routine patrol or traffic enforcement or to monitor citizens. Despite the promise, the New York Civil Liberties Union says it’s concerned the department’s policies don’t place many official limits on drone use. NYPD says more than 900 police, fire and emergency units around the country already use drones in some form.
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