With billions of dollars in its coffers, the New York City police department enjoys one of the highest police budgets of any city in the United States.
Even after landmark uprisings against racist policing systems last year pressured drastic cuts to the police budget, the NYPD still receives the third highest funding of any agency in the city.
New Yorkers got a glimpse this week into how that money is being used when a video surfaced of Digidog, a 70 pound surveillance robot designed to send live footage to human officers in high-pressure situations.
The bot was tested in the Bronx earlier this week, investigating a home invasion.
NYPD Robo-Dog "Digidog" Deployed in NYC www.youtube.com
While its defenders say the bot will help protect the city's police in dangerous situations, New Yorkers are largely condemning the bot as a dangerous trend toward further militarization of police in the Big Apple—former home of the racist stop-and-frisk policy that overwhelmingly targeted innocent people of color.
Among those criticizing the technology was Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), a strong proponent of reallocating greater portions of police resources into public goods like education and healthcare.
Ocasio-Cortez reiterated that support in her response to the Digidog test.
Shout out to everyone who fought against community advocates who demanded these resources go to investments like sc… https://t.co/fxApNuxH28— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1614281512.0
Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 25, 2021
The Congresswoman called on her followers to ask themselves when they last saw subsidized state-of-the-art technology go towards resources for residents in underserved communities, instead of overwhelmingly toward the police who disproportionately surveil them.
Her opposition was met with widespread agreement.
When my mom was teaching 6th grade she spent hundreds of dollars out of pocket for classroom supplies. The police g… https://t.co/i8YIlgwnND— Goodbye Blue Monday! (@Goodbye Blue Monday!)1614282829.0
@aoc makes a very compelling point on the priorities for what funding and resources go to. Education should be our… https://t.co/xEaiDvP0oO— sociologystan (@sociologystan)1614326410.0
Field testing military grade hardware in inner city neighborhoods. Probably could buy computers for an entire schoo… https://t.co/SobA4h0pRH— Brian Krohn (@Brian Krohn)1614284751.0
I was on a community call w/ last night about facial recognition tech our DA purchased & now this!? So infuriating… https://t.co/tHKTDWEjYp— Brittany Ramos DeBarros 📎 (@Brittany Ramos DeBarros 📎)1614283404.0
Ah yes, I too woke up this morning and felt the burning desire to spend copious amounts of cash we pulled out of ou… https://t.co/GlhyuFUxFG— BLACK LIVES ✨still✨ MATTER (@BLACK LIVES ✨still✨ MATTER)1614309039.0
The cost of the robot could be invested in a community center that would solve these issues. https://t.co/0d54sKUdmi— Paul Roberson (@Paul Roberson)1614315593.0
Don't forget to buy school supplies for your class, and chip in on teacher's salaries, and donate pots and pans to… https://t.co/1PbjnyuXau— bakedankle (@bakedankle)1614309359.0
Some said the robot reminded them of something out of the dystopian television series Black Mirror.
Looking forward to auditioning for this Black Mirror episode https://t.co/n2BHZpkFdx— orange hi-c (@orange hi-c)1614313250.0
I hated this episode of Black Mirror. https://t.co/1bttyesqX6— Kelly Vaughn 🐞 (@Kelly Vaughn 🐞)1614282008.0
Every day a little closer to Black Mirror :( https://t.co/v0FjQfrlbE— holly lanasolyluna (@holly lanasolyluna)1614303764.0
Despite the $75 thousand robot dog cop, the culprits involved in the home invasion were gone before authorities arrived, having stolen $2 thousand and a cell phone. The men held two people hostage before one of the hostages managed to escape and alert police. The second hostage, a 35 year old man, was gone as well.
While the bot is still in its testing phase, it's unclear how broad its usage would be if fully adopted by the NYPD.