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Mayor Eric Adams is mulling a mini-army of drones to fight surging crime in the Big Apple — possibly deploying the high-flying robocops from rooftops as watchful guardians of Gotham, sources told The Post.
Adams attended the gathering in the Williamsburg Hotel, and sources said the mayor was so impressed with the joint presentation that he suggested his chief technology officer Matthew Fraser and the firms’ honchos begin talks about the city potentially buying drones and expanding the NYPD’s use of them.
“Eric is a big booster of drones and how they can be used to streamline government function, but obviously whatever he would try to roll out would be constrained” under existing laws limiting drone use, said a source familiar with the mayor’s thinking.
The drone makers – whose clients include the US Department of Defense, Air Force and Customs and Border Protection – say they’ve dubbed the plan the “Soteria Project,” derived from a Greek word meaning “deliverance from a crisis.”
Their motto: “an eye in the sky in zero time.”
Ido Gur, who heads Easy Aerial, said the city could respond to crimes anywhere in Manhattan in under a minute by deploying just 10 of his drones.
They cost about $70,000 to $100,000 apiece, and include a mini-ground station for take-off, landing and recharging.
“If someone fires a pistol,” the device’s case “will open and the drone will go into automation,” Gur said. “We can be onsite in a few seconds – much faster than 911.”
The aerial cops won’t be weaponized or provide facial recognition, but they’re equipped with thermal cameras allowing for night vision and sensors that can be used for radiation detection and other features.
The feed from the drones could be sent to the NYPD command center or even a cop’s cell phone.
The drones could also be used to prevent crime. Cops monitoring them could remotely set off flashing lights on the drones and issue voice warnings over its speakers — such as “Move away!” to a potential perpetrator.
Gur said Adams told him and Blue White Robotics CEO Ben Alfi he’s “very interested” in putting drones along rooftops in high-crime areas of the city and connecting them to the Police Department’s ShotSpotter gunfire-recognition system.
Gur also said that Adams “promised” to visit his factory, located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in the coming weeks.
A spokesman for the mayor said Adams “doesn’t discuss private conversations but obviously made no commitments – and would never do so in a casual conversation at an event.”
State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) said adding more drones to the NYPD’s fleet would be “irresponsible and invasive.”
“Using taxpayer dollars to buy these surveillance drones while also asking New Yorkers to accept defunded sanitation, education, and human services departments is reprehensible,” she said. “What will it take to make Mayor Adams understand that the very neighborhoods he wants to circle drones over are the ones who are suffering from a lack of investment?”
In December 2018, the NYPD began deploying 14 drones to help assist officers in hostage situations, reaching crime scenes in remote locations, monitoring large crowds and other police business. However, their use was modest at best under former Mayor Bill de Blasio as many of the drones’ documented flights have been for training purposes only.
Easy Aerial has previously provided security during the Super Bowl and has been used by the US to monitor suspicious activity along the Mexican border and also monitor the border along the Gaza Strip for Israel.
Adams interest in buying more drones for the Police Department was first reported by New York Jewish Week.