The robotic dog was recalled by the previous NYC mayor shortly after its introduction in 2021 due to major backlash and security issues. Civil rights advocates found Digidog's aggressive policing creepy and scary.
"The prior administration didn't have a mayor that was a computer geek and that was willing to go where others are not willing to go to keep the city safe," Adams said in a press conference Tuesday, April 11, in Times Square. "I made it clear on the campaign trail, I am going to use technology with transparency to keep this city safe. And others just weren't willing to do that, and I am."
The mayor said the remote-controlled, 70-pound and highly mobile K-9 robot will be deployed starting this summer. It will be used in high-risk situations and locations. "[Digidog] will undoubtedly save lives – both of the public and the police," the NYPD added.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said this particular technological advancement is a testament to the police department's history of being the first to use the latest technological innovations to "safeguard a modern city." He noted that the Big Apple was among the first cities to adopt the 911 emergency call system and to take mugshots and fingerprints.
Apart from the robot, the NYPD is also rolling out two other technologies this year: the StarChase GPS system and the K5 Autonomous Security Robot.
StarChase is a GPS tag system that tracks vehicles by using a projectile that attaches a GPS-enabled device, providing real-time information about the vehicle's location and allowing NYPD officers to track a tagged vehicle remotely to avoid a high-risk vehicle pursuit in the crowded streets of NYC.
Meanwhile, the K5 robot or K5 Autonomous Security Robot will provide additional camera coverage of confined public areas, such as transit facilities. K5 has been used by law enforcement agencies, college campuses, corporations and shopping malls across the country to provide security and deter crime. According to the NYPD, K5 will be put to use during a pilot program that will last seven months, beginning in the summer of 2023.
Sewell assured the public that the use of this new tech will be "transparent, consistent and always done in collaboration with the people that we serve."
"And as with every NYPD initiative, we will continuously evaluate their use and impact on our city. Our job is to fight crime and keep people safe. And these tools are significant steps forward in that vital mission," she said.
Meanwhile, civil libertarians and police reform advocates are still uneasy and are questioning the need for high-tech devices. (Related: NYPD to use "Robocop-style" patrol cars with 360-degree cameras.)
"This latest announcement is just the most recent example of how Mayor Adams allows unmitigated overspending of the NYPD's massively bloated budget," said Ileana Mendez-Penate, program director of Communities United for Police Reform. "The NYPD is buying robot dogs and another fancy tech while New Yorkers can't access food stamps because city agencies are short-staffed, and New Yorkers are getting evicted because they can't access their right to counsel."
Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, said: "The NYPD is turning bad science fiction into terrible policing. New York deserves real safety, not a knockoff RoboCop."
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Watch this video showing the Digidog being introduced to the public a couple of years ago.
This video is from the channel The Prisoner on Brighteon.com.