The NYPD Refuses to Release Its Drone Documents

​In the last two years, two New York City police commissioners have frankly discussed the department’s research into unmanned vehicles, confirming that the NYPD is indeed interested in the use of drones in law enforcement. But the department’s transparency office has determined, i​n response to three separate MuckRock requests, that any documentation regarding the NYPD’s drone research does not exist or is otherwise beyond reach.

So we’re suing.

On November 19th, legal counsel representing â€‹Mu​ckRock filed a petition (embedded below) to force the NYPD to release documents related to its drone research and other activities, as outlined in New York’s Freedom of Information Law.

In particular, our petition points out that the NYPD Freedom of Information staff failed to do more than parrot language from the New York public records law, and did not point to specific justification for withholding its drone documents.

“We were forced to resort to legal action because the NYPD is unwilling to tell the public how they are using drone technology,” David B. Rankin of Rankin & Taylor, who is providing counsel to MuckRuck, said in an email. “Unfortunately, the NYPD is the most hostile of all New York City agencies to the public’s long established right to know what its government is doing.”

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for December 22, which comes on the heels of a number of public statements by the department’s top brass regarding the NYPD’s interest in unmanned aerial vehicles.

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