NYPD Should Equip Drones With Tasers for 911 Calls, According to Pro-Trump Congressman

NYPD Should Equip Drones With Tasers for 911 Calls, According to Pro-Trump Congressman

The New York Police Department plans to use drones to respond to some 911 calls in a new program, according to testimony delivered Thursday at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. And while that’s concerning enough, one Republican congressman had some ideas about how to improve the idea. Specifically, he wants those new drones equipped with tasers.

“Drones are absolutely a wonderful way… I think it saves lives. I think it saves officers’ lives. I’ll even take it to the next step and say eventually we should put non-lethal [weapons] on drones. Use one to tase somebody,” Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas said with a smile, according to a YouTube stream of the hearing.

Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas wants police to use taser drones

As you can see above, Nehls said all of this while wearing a tie with former president Donald Trump’s face on it, giving the entire exchange a surreal feeling. Nehls was previously a cop with the Richmond Police Department in Texas but was reportedly fired for a number of offenses, including destruction of evidence, according to Houston Public Media.

Thursday’s congressional hearing, first reported by Gothamist, featured several high-ranking members of the NYPD, including Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry, who explained that the police department currently has 85 drones in its fleet. The NYPD is outfitting drone landing platforms on precinct rooftops and will soon deploy the unmanned aerial vehicles in response to 911 calls.

Details about the program are scarce, but Gothamist notes the plan is to use the drones in five New York precincts: three in Brooklyn, with one in the Bronx and one in Central Park. The drones aren’t used regularly yet, but their sporadic use has already been notable, with deployment up 420% in 2023 compared with 2022. As Gothamist points out, the drones have most recently been used to monitor pro-Palestinian protests in the city.

Police departments in at least two wealthy California cities, Chula Vista near San Diego and Santa Monica near Los Angeles, launched their own drone programs last year. One promotional video about Santa Monica’s drone program even features real-world videos taken from above, showing the kind of surveillance that’s now possible for police.

Advexure Spotlight: Santa Monica PD’s Drone-as-a-First-Responder (DFR) Program

How close are we to seeing taser drones actually deployed by U.S. police departments? That part isn’t clear. Axon, the largest maker of taser products in the U.S., announced in 2022 that it was developing taser drones. But the company supposedly halted development after pushback from a majority of its ethics board, which resigned in protest.

Axon’s founder and CEO, Rick Smith, gave hints recently that Axon was still very interested in developing taser drones to use in school shooter situations. And that’s obviously an area where the average person would probably consider the deployment of weaponized drones to be perfectly reasonable. The problem, of course, is that whenever police get new toys, they don’t just use them in the most extreme cases. And given this country’s trajectory, it’s way too easy to imagine a world where weaponized drones are responding to every 911 call.

“Every police officer around the country would prefer to de-escalate high-risk situations,” Nehls said on Thursday in one of the more laughable statements of the hearing. “To achieve this objective, law enforcement needs to gain situational awareness of the threat safe face and drones provide real-time data in responding officers about the threat safe face and where they should respond.”

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