With eyes in the skies, on the street and underground, the NYPD went all out to keep Times Square’s huge New Year’s Eve celebration festive and safe for all at every level Sunday.
The department sent drones into the skies and a flood of transit cops into the subways to keep more than 1 million revelers safe as they ring out the old year.
While giving amNewYork Metro an inside look at the security effort, Assistant Commissioner Kaz Daughtery noted that this marks the first year the country’s largest police department will be using drone surveillance to monitor the safety of all involved.
“This technology is a game changer. We were never able to watch in real time from drones that we’re using. last year we utilized more CCTV cameras,” Daughtery said. “The quality is 5K and it’s the first time we are able to use it.”
One of the drones was tethered to a police vehicle keeping it charged, allowing the craft to hover 150 feet in the air and stream the video in real time to police headquarters and an individual cop’s smartphone. The video can also be transmitted in infrared.
Despite the advanced technology, Daughtery stated that the police do not use any form of A.I. or facial recognition software.
“There is no A.I. in these drones, no artificial intelligence. It’s just straight video. We can look around for any type of anomalies or suspicious people,” Daughtery said.
Meanwhile underground in the Times Square subway station, NYPD’s Chief of Transit Michael Kemper briefed about 300 cops on the night’s plans, instructing them to keep their eyes out for anything suspicious on their footposts.
“If you think about where we’re standing right now, in a couple of hours, just a few hours, there’s going to be upwards of a million plus people right on top of us,” Chief Kemper told amNewYork Metro. “Supplementing these offices is a large contingent of plainclothes cops. We have offices with canines, there’s a counterterrorism, and we often talk about the vast network of video surveillance in the subway system. Well, we have thousands of videos, video cameras, around the subway system, most cameras are going to be viewed in real time by officers tonight.”
Kemper emphasized that the role of transit cops is to keep New Yorkers and tourists alike safe before, during and after the huge New Year’s celebration ends.