The New York Police Department (NYPD) got a new spying toy. A helicopter stuffed full of surveilance electronics with amazing (and frightening) capabilities:
- looks like a civilian helicopter made by “Bell”
- an arsenal of sophisticated surveillance and tracking equipment powerful enough to read license plates — or scan pedestrians’ faces — from high above New York
- see-but-avoid-being-seen advantage
- worth $10 million
- high-powered robotic camera mounted on a turret projecting from its nose like a periscope
- camera has infrared night-vision capabilities
- a satellite navigation system allows police to automatically zoom in on a location by typing in the address on a computer keyboard
- can beam live footage to police command centers or even to wireless hand-held devices
The NYPD got the expected reactions:
“From a privacy perspective, there’s always a concern that ‘New York’s Finest’ are spending millions of dollars to engage in peeping tom activities,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
And answered them the usual way:
Police insist that law-abiding New Yorkers have nothing to fear.
Yeah, right. Nothing to fear? If I want to be spied upon, I would move to North Corea. Yahoo tells us, that the NYPD plans to spend tens of millions of dollars strengthening security in the lower Manhattan business district with a network of closed-circuit television cameras and license-plate readers posted at bridges, tunnels and other entry points. We are sure they are only taping the “non-law-abiding New Yorkers”. That’s pretty much the usual stuff. The UK (who somehow misunderstood George Orwells 1984 and now seem to take it as an instruction manual) has all this. But now the Yahoo article starts to get surreal:
Police have also deployed hundreds of radiation monitors — some worn on belts like pagers, others mounted on cars and in helicopters — to detect dirty bombs.
And fantastic – did he read the R. Talsorian “Protect and Serve”?
[NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond] Kelly even envisions someday using futuristic “stationary airborne devices” similar to blimps to conduct reconnaissance and guard against chemical, biological and radiological threats.
Thanks to Don’t Tase Me, Bro! for pointing me to the Yahoo News Article. I remember a (bad) science fiction movie featuring a helicopter that could see into rooms with thermographs. Anybody remember the name?