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NYPD surveillance drone will fly above Times Square on New Year’s Eve

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A photo from the drone-less New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square last year. An NYPD drone will fly the NYC skies during this year's festivities.
A photo from the drone-less New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square last year. An NYPD drone will fly the NYC skies during this year’s festivities.

Image: Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images

It’s a bird, it’s a plane — it’s a…surveillance drone?

For the first time in history, the New York Police Department will fly a drone over Times Square to monitor the crowd during the annual New Year’s Eve celebration. The drone will surveil the event alongside more than 1,200 cameras in order to assist around 7,000 police officers who will be on duty, according to the .

The remote-controlled quadcopter will never fly directly over the crowd and will be tied to a building in an enclosed area as a safety precaution.

The NYPD will also be deploying technology that prevents unauthorized drone usage during the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square.

Earlier this month, the NYPD unveiled its brand new drone program. The announcement drew from the New York Civil Liberties Union and other groups. Critics claim that police drones can have chilling effects on free speech and protest rights. 

There’s also concern around the use of facial recognition software with police drones. The NYPD has had its with carrying out illegal surveillance without the aid of a camera-equipped drone flying the skies.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that more than 2 million people are expected for the annual ball drop. Experts, however, have said the the actual number of people packed into Times Square is closer to 100,000.

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