NYPD fleet to become 360-degree surveillance hubs, cops film Drake concert goers
The New York Police Department has given a preview of its new vehicles which will include 360-degree surveillance. The news coincides with the police force causing controversy after filming people leaving a Drake concert at Manhattan’s Apollo Theater. The volume of video being collected by the NYPD immediately prompted a denial of increased facial recognition use.
The announcement was made by Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell during the department’s annual State of the NYPD breakfast in Midtown, hosted by the New York City Police Foundation, reports The Daily News.
Details remain scarce and media focus is on the fact the “iconic” New York City patrol cars will have green stripes added to the livery and a QR code for the public to scan to access NYPD websites. The vehicles will be large, with all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E Sport Crossover Utility Vehicles expected to be among them.
However, reports mention that all will have wraparound cameras allowing full surveillance, particularly useful when vehicles are attacked. It is not clear whether the cameras are part of a roof-mounted rig or embedded within the vehicle.
Vehicles are expected to roll out in early 2024, reports the New York Post, although costs and quantities have not yet been divulged.
The NYPD does not have a good reputation when it comes to biometrics and surveillance. Press questions followed Sewell’s presentation. When asked about the department’s AR app which gives officers information on a building such as whether any wanted people are associated with it, Sewell said the force has no plans to expand its use of facial recognition technology.
Concert-leavers filmed by police ‘for social media video’
A few days before the 360-degree camera announcement, NYPD officers were using different cameras to film people leaving a concert by hip-hop artist Drake at the Apollo Theater. This came to light when fans began reporting it on Twitter. The NYPD has since said the filming was for promotional material.
Jon Caramanica, a music journalist, tweeted a video from the perspective of a leaver, passing an officer filming everyone filing past, with what appears to be a recent triple-lens iPhone held in a gimbal.
here’s the video pic.twitter.com/xeCB96veU0
— Jon Caramanica (@joncaramanica) January 22, 2023
Other concert goers tweeted that officers were filming inside the venue.
As outrage mounted over the police filming without consent, the NYPD Office of the Deputy Commissioner issued a statement to entertainment news site Consequence:
“The officer depicted in the video is a Community Affairs officer involved with the 28th Precinct’s social media team. The officer was taking video for an upcoming Twitter post that will highlight local community events. The video will not be utilized for any other reason.”
The department has since posted a video of preparation and policing on the night to social media:
No matter the situation, the NYPD is prepared to keep people safe.
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) January 25, 2023
NYPD has previously run dedicated units to investigate crime around hip-hop events.