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NYPD will use security drones to assist patrols during J'Ouvert festivities this weekend

NYPD deploying drones for holiday weekend gatherings
NYPD deploying drones for holiday weekend gatherings 01:42

NEW YORK -- Those attending large outdoor gatherings this weekend in New York City may see an uninvited guest hovering above

Surveillance drones are set to be the NYPD's eyes and ears at parties and large festivities for J'Ouvert. 

The department said officers plan to deploy nearly a dozen drones to augment patrol responses to 311 and 911 calls. 

"We'll apply the law when we have to. We'll give people breaks, we'll be compassionate, we'll make arrests when we have to. Firm but fair. We want everyone to have a celebratory weekend with the least amount of enforcement," said NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell. 

The idea is that drones can arrive sooner than a patrol officer.

NYPD on J'Ouvert celebration safety preps 11:36

The NYPD first used this tactic in June during the Pride parade in Manhattan after hundreds of people gathered inside Washington Square Park. A recorded message played through the drone was used to clear the park, they said. 

"In New York City, we're going to lead the way of what a safe West Indian Day or Labor Day weekend is going to be. We are confident that the work of the police commissioner, Commissioner Caban and his team, has put together is going to be effective," said Pastor Gilford Monrose, faith advisor to the Office of the Mayor. 

Police said warnings are being sent out to gang members to be on their best behavior. Officers sent letters to the homes of about 40 people who are on record as a known gang member from the area. 

We're told the letter informs them they have been identified and will face scrutiny. 

Legal Aid lawyer opposed to NYPD's plan to use drones for patrols 00:46

A lawyer with the Legal Aid Society, however, says using drones to monitor people is the same as an unlawful search.

"A search does not necessarily have to be something where officers are sent in swarming, but recording people and monitoring them from the sky while they're in the privacy of their backyard is an unlawful search," said Jerome Greco, digital forensics supervising attorney for the Legal Aid Society.

"A drone can get to a location in 30, 40 seconds, where we're gonna have crowded streets, where police are not going to be able to get there as fast," Adams said.

The NYPD said this will be its first time using drones in this capacity after finding success with other large events.  

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