$74,000 NYPD robot dog hits streets of Manhattan

Now viral videos show — for lack of a better term — a robot dog joining the human members of the NYPD’s response to a domestic dispute inside a NYCHA building in Kips Bay, Monday.

"I can't believe what I'm seeing," 344 E. 28th St. Tenant Association President Melanie Aucello said. "It felt surreal."

Aucello shot one of those viral videos on her smartphone and compared the scene she witnessed to something out of a dystopian movie.

"It scared me," she said.

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The NYPD told Fox 5 the 70-pound, four-legged robot, equipped with cameras, lights, two-way communication, and artificial intelligence allowing it to move on its own, remained on standby during Monday’s response while human officers arrested the suspect and charged him with criminal possession of a weapon.

"I think it really speaks to the skewed priorities of their leadership," Sen. Brad Hoylman said.

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Hoylman, who represents the district where this incident took place, thought deploying the $74,000 robot dog anywhere undermined police-community relations, but especially in a public housing complex where residents might already mistrust the police.

"They deserve policing that is humane and human," Hoylman said.

The NYPD reminds us it's used robots in hostage and hazmat situations for four-plus decades now. This marks at least the third time the department's deployed one of these robot dogs—a device still in, what the NYPD called, its test phase.

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"This allows the police department to function with minimal risk to officers involved," John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor and 26-year veteran of the NYPD Keith Taylor told Fox 5 in February, "and the tactical value of that is immeasurable."

Taylor spoke to the future potential of this technology. Hoylman wanted to see the money, time, and energy spent on the robot redirected into efforts to build better trust within the community. 

"Budgets are a statement of values," Hoylman said, "and when the NYPD deploys a $75,000 surveillance toy ..."

"I don't understand why," Aucello said.