NYPD reveals fleet of 14 drones

The New York Police Department (NYPD), the largest police force in the U.S., on Tuesday revealed its fleet of 14 drones, saying they will be used to aid policing efforts across the city.

"Whether it's a search and rescue mission, an inaccessible crime scene, a hostage situation, or a hazardous material incident, this technology will undoubtedly help keep New Yorkers and officers safe," the NYPD said in a statement.

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Civil liberties groups raised concerns about the use of drones in a city with a history of surveilling its residents, particularly Muslims and other minority groups.

The NYPD said officers will not use the unmanned aerial vehicles to unlawfully spy on New York residents. Instead, it said the drones will aid police during large events, hostage situations and hazardous waste spills.

“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," Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said in the statement.

The NYPD met with the New York Civil Liberties Union before it announced its drone policy, and the civil liberties group on Tuesday released a statement criticizing the new program for its failure to place any "meaningful restrictions" on the use of drones, according to The Verge.

"While we appreciate the NYPD’s willingness to meet with us before it announced this program, we believe the new policy falls far short of what is needed to balance the department’s legitimate law-enforcement needs against the privacy interests of New Yorkers," the group said.

The NYPD said they have trained 29 officers to operate the aerial vehicles. The department said it does not intend to use the drones for routine police operations.

More than 900 state and local police departments use drones.