Secondary Navigation

Transcript: Mayor Adams Makes Public Safety Announcement With NYPD Commissioner Sewell

April 11, 2023

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell: Good morning and thank you all for joining us here in Times Square. To safeguard our modern city in a forward-looking world, it is essential that our officers are equipped with the tools, training and technology necessary to do that job safely and effectively.

In the case of the NYPD, this has been true for nearly two centuries. Throughout its history our department has leveraged the latest available technology and pioneered ways to do our work.

Innovations in science and industry have always been reflected in policing, and especially so in the NYPD. Foot patrol to horseback, bicycles to motorcycles, and automobiles to aircraft. Moving forward, yet keeping what works in our toolkit.

The NYPD was among the first police departments in the world to implement fingerprinting and mugshots. New York was the first city to widely adopt the 911 call system for emergencies. We realized the potential of computing to store, track and analyze crime data.

From hand gathered crime data to CompStat, from call boxes to smartphones, the NYPD has always stepped forward. In every era we have maximized public and officer safety through emerging technology, and that approach continues today.

But we know that technology is just a tool. And it is only as effective as the person or people using it. There was a human being behind and responsible for every mechanism that we use. That is our approach to any technological implementation, including the public safety tools being introduced today.

Today we are announcing three new policing technologies in New York City. The K5 autonomous security robot; the Spot, Digidog robot; and the StarChase GPS attachment system.

Both the StarChase system and the K5 robot will be deployed as a pilot, which we will discuss further.

We want the public to know that the use of these technologies 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. I will now turn it over to Mayor Eric Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Do I need to talk?

Commissioner Sewell: You do. They want to hear you.

Mayor Adams: I think the commissioner, she never ceases to amaze me in her clear articulation on what we need to move our Police Department forward.

And I've stated this from day one, even when I was on the campaign trail, I'm a computer geek. And I believe that technology is here. We cannot be afraid of it.

And as the commissioner stated, transparency is the key. And the two pilots that we are rolling out today to see how they fit in our public safety environment, is matched with the Digidog, a robotic dog that could be used to save lives. It was something that was introduced previously under the previous administration. And a few loud people were opposed to it and we took a step back. That is not how I operate. I operate on looking at what's best for the city.

And the three we are mentioning today is only the beginning. We are looking at the new forms of public safety. I have put Deputy Mayor Banks and our entire… Matt Fraser, my chief technology officer. We are scanning the globe on finding technology that would ensure this city is safe for New Yorkers, visitors, and whomever is here in this city.

This is the beginning of a series of roll outs we are going to do, to show how public safety has transformed itself.

And I think the commissioner laid it out correctly. Imagine the pushback, when I read about the first time fingerprinting was put in place, 911 system was put in place, CompStat was put in place. If we were not willing to move forward and use technology on how to properly keep cities safe, then you will not keep up with those who are doing harmful things to hurt New Yorkers.

If it wasn't for our camera system that you see throughout the city, we would not have made the apprehensions on some of the most dangerous people in this city and state. That is the type of technology we need. And there are new versions of that technology that artificial intelligence is allowing us to go even further, to properly prevent crimes and apprehend those who are responsible for the crimes.

This is the role we must take, and I want to thank the commissioner and her leadership for not allowing us to remain stagnant. We can build a better product in public safety. We want to add to our decrease in crime that you're seeing in this city. And how we are making our subway system safe. All of these things are crucial, to use the manpower we have, but at the same time, match it with the technology that is available.

And so I look forward to the new technology that we are going to roll out under this NYPD, on how we keep the people of this city safe. Again, thank you commissioner, thank you to your team for doing an amazing job.

Commissioner Sewell: Chief Maddrey.

Jeffrey Maddrey, Chief of Department, Police Department: Thank you, commissioner. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Good morning everyone. So the first item that we will roll out is the K5 autonomous security robot.

And just to tell you a little bit about this technology. It'll add additional patrol into confined areas, indoor and outdoors, such as transit facilities.

The K5 uses artificial intelligence to provide real-time incident notifications to first responders. The K5 has been used by law enforcement agencies, including the Huntington Park Police, college campuses throughout this country, corporations, shopping malls, and other places where needed security and additional deterrents of crime was needed.

The K5, this is a leased piece of technology, we do not own this technology. We are in agreement to use just one for now as a pilot. And we would like to start this pilot sometime in the summer, around June or July, to last for approximately six months. And we're looking to initially deploy it either in Times Square or the subway station.

For the first month of this appointment we will have a human partner along with the artificial intelligence, the device. One of our members from TARU will help monitor it and make sure that it's working properly.

And the K5 uses self-driving technology. It has onboard cameras and sensors, is similar to like a Roomba, a robot vacuum.

The path of the robot is set by our members. The robot will patrol that predetermined path until it's deactivated.

The robot does automatically recharge itself when it starts running out of energy, it goes back to its docking station, it will refuel for about 10 to 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and then it'll go back out on patrol.

And again, this K5 robot provides real time situational awareness and actionable intelligence to first responders, and also provides a physical crime deterrence. We ready? Okay

Question: For the mayor, [inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: 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. 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.

Question: Hi. Mr. Mayor. How are you?

Mayor Adams: How are you, Kemberly?

Question: I'm going to beg to differ with you on a few loud voices in the Digidog. There were many folks in the communities that were concerned about Digidog. So on the [inaudible] of this question, what are you doing differently this time to calm people's suspicion of the device and reassure that, being transparent, that it's going to be used for [inaudible].

Mayor Adams: Well, first this is New York, 8.5 million people, 35 million opinions. So no matter what you do, there are going to be pros and cons.

We are doing what others didn't do. We're putting it right here in Times Square. We're allowing people to come in and look at Digidog and K5 and others. And we are going to bring in community leaders and say, "Here's the technology that we have. Would you like this in your community?"

Allow them to talk about it, hear about it, share their ideas. And then in those situations where you can't have police officers going inside because it's dangerous, this Digidog actually deescalates situation.

So this is a great way to use technology. If you have a barricaded suspect, you have someone that's inside a building that is armed, instead of sending police officers in there, you send Digidog inside there. So these are smart ways of using good technologies. But we are rolling it out and giving people the information they need.

Question: [Inaudible] talk to their folks in their communities, and they're still a little suspect of it, and they say they don't want it, will Digidog go back to the pound?

Mayor Adams: No. Digidog is out of the pound. Digidog is now part of the tool kit that we are using. And trust me when I tell you this. If a person has a loved one that is in a hostage situation, they want a Digidog, a real dog, and anything else they can get, to keep their family members safe. We are leaving no stone unturned to protect New Yorkers.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: One should do an analysis of per capita public safety. The same Republicans who are coming here, talking about the safety in New York, where crime is going down, shootings and homicides are going down because of the plan the commissioner has put in place. Those same districts, crime is increasing per capita.

So I think this is a moment where they should do a reflection in their own demographics. Those same people that are talking about the crime in New York, per capita, they are going up, they're increasing. And so why are they here? They should be holding the hearing in their municipalities to deal with the issues there.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: No, I clearly think that this is put in place by Donald Trump campaign committee. Listen, this is not about public safety. We are trending in the right direction. Their districts are trending in the wrong direction. So they come to New York City, New York City is trending in the right direction.

Now, it's quite possible that they come into New York to sit down with the commissioner so she can show them some of the things she's doing to bring down the crime, so that they don't continue to see the spike in crime in their locations.

Moderator: We're going to move on to the demonstration of the K5 robot.

K5 Robot: Hello Mayor Adams. We are here to get stuff done, hashtag GSD.

Mayor Adams: Like that. Once we finish with the other two pieces, we're going to open it and let you go actually inside and see the robots.

Maddrey: We're ready? Good. Okay. So the second piece of technology that we're going to display today is the Digidog. This robot will be able to enter, assess, assist the NYPD in tracking and investigating high risk hazardous situations and locations.

This is a tool that will undoubtedly save lives, both of the police and the public. And here's Digidog.

The robot will be remotely controlled only by trained TARU, Technical Assistance and Response Unit officers. And be deployed to assist ESU, or Emergency Service unit, in hostage negotiations, counter-terrorism incidents, and other situations as needed.

This will only be deployed at the direction of the chief of department, myself. This is something that's been used with the FDNY for the last year, and they've had positive success with it. And we believe that this Digidog will help save lives, increase public safety, keep people who are suspects in crime, people suffering from mental health crisis, it will help them and help us provide better service to them.

Question: How many Digidogs will you be acquiring? Or is it a lease situation [inaudible].

Maddrey: Yep, we will be acquiring two of the Digidogs.

Question: And they will only be used in response to crisis situations, they won't be [inaudible].

Maddrey: No, they're not going to be used for patrol. This is a lifesaving device. It's going to be used for hostage situations, bomb threats, counterterrorism situations. Things where the best course of action will be to send the Digidog in first before a human being.

Question: [Inaudible.] 

Frank Digiacomo, Technical Assistance Response Unit Commanding Officer, Police Department: So basically we spent $750,000, but we used forfeiture money. We didn't use regular NYPD funds. It was purchased with forfeiture money.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Digiacomo: The forfeiture money? No.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: There is never the wrong time for public safety. I can't say that enough. There's never the wrong time for public safety. And this is not paying and wasting. This is an investment in our public safety.

I don't want to have a police officer go in a building where there's someone that's dangerous, and lose that police officer. There is no dollar amount attached to losing Rivera and Mora. There's no dollar amount attached. And so investment in public safety is what we're doing, and we're being smart in how we're doing it.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Maddrey: There's a camera on there. It provides two-way communication. And of course, when we have a situation, this is something that, along with TARU, along with the chief of Special Operations Division, we'll confer and figure out the best course of action.

But as the mayor said, if we have an armed suspect in there or we think we are dealing with some kind of poisonous fumes or hazardous materials, of course our best option would be to send Digidog in first, allow for the Digidog to assess what's going on. And then our experts, our Emergency Service Unit, our Counterterrorism Unit, can then go in after.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Maddrey: No, this will be real time. They can see what's going on through the camera, real time.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Maddrey: Well, I don't have any examples here, and I don't like talking about other municipalities. But we've seen instances where sending in artificial intelligence, I think about the incident that happened down in Dallas a few years ago where they used a robot to disarm the bomb. That's the one thing that comes to mind right away. And there's other situations that I won't discuss.

But I just think it would've been to our advantage, to law enforcement's advantage, if they sent in one of the robots first and was able to establish a dialogue to keep the person safe.

When we send our officers in there, the danger that's created for the officers and the suspect, we can't measure that. But with a Digidog, it's going to deescalate, it's going to give us additional time to work, and then we can make a better plan, we can do a better assessment and get the right resources to help the person.

Chell: All right, good morning. Our next technology's the StarChase GPS tracking. I want to thank the Mayor and the PC for allowing us to pilot this program. It really is an investment in public safety. It'll allow our cops to do our job better, keep them safer, and keep the public safer.

In the last couple of years, you've seen an influx of what we now know is ghost cars, cars with paper plates. And increase in stolen cars. And sometimes these cars are being used to commit other crimes.

This device comes in two forms. It comes in a handheld device and a vehicle mounted device. It discharges a projectile onto the vehicle, which allows us to use GPS to track the vehicle.

And why we are doing this, it allows our officers to stay safe, limit pursuits, and let the GPS do its job.

Just to put a real time story into this, on Saturday night we had it deployed, with some trained officers. There was a stolen car in Queens. The car was followed into the Bronx. One of our Bronx units had this device. They utilized this device. The car pulled over, we made the arrest, we took a stolen car off the street. And just as important, we kept our officers safe, mitigated the pursuit, and kept the community safe.

So hopefully this pilot program goes well, and this is definitely a game changer in what we are doing. So when you're ready for the demonstration, we will do so.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Chell: They can try, but it's a GPS tracker, and we will be on top of them by the time they even try to do that.

Question: [Inaudible] technology use any facial recognition [inaudible].

Commissioner Sewell: We are not using facial recognition technology in any of these devices.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Chell: Say that again?

Question: [Inaudible.]

Chell: It's in the pilot phase, all those logistics will be worked out after the pilot phase.

Mayor Adams: And keep in mind, it's crucial here. We have a severe increase in the number of people who attempt to flee stops. Many of them, when they're caught, they have guns in the car, wanted for serious crimes. And what we want to do is to mitigate as many high speed chases in the city as possible. And this technology allows us to do that.

It's a brilliant way of not putting police officers in danger, civilians in danger, and apprehend those who are responsible.

There's a large number of people who flee police officers just about… When I speak with the team, they are fleeing from the police. Often, this technology is going to help alleviate that. So why don't we do the presentation? Come on, Marcia.

Media Contact
(212) 788-2958