NYPD’s robot dog is axed after AOC said it targeted low income communities of color

The NYPD will return a robot dog after it was condemned for targeting ‘low income communities of color’ with the dystopian four-legged surveillance machine. 

John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, told the New York Daily News on Wednesday that the NYPD had cancelled its $94,000 contract with Boston Dynamics.

Miller on Wednesday defended the metal canine, known as a DigiDog, from claims from critics like progressive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who called it a ‘robotic surveillance ground drone’. 

‘Shout out to everyone who fought against community advocates who demanded these resources go to investments like school counseling instead,’ Ocacio-Cortez had tweeted on February 25.

‘Now robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools.’

She added: ‘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?’   

The NYPD defended the metal canine from critics like AOC who had said it was a ‘surveillance ground drone’ being ‘deployed for testing on low-income communities of color’

A video shows the Digidog being tested by NYPD officers

A video shows the Digidog being tested by NYPD officers

A video shows the Digidog being tested by NYPD officers

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio had told the NYPD to 'rethink' its contract with Boston Dynamics over the Digidog

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio had told the NYPD to ‘rethink’ its contract with Boston Dynamics over the Digidog

Miller told the Daily News: ‘It was never a piece of ‘surveillance equipment.’ Some people who had an agenda tried to make it out to be for spying. Really?’ 

‘It was loud when it walked, had a camera for a head, flashing lights and a speaker and a police officer could use to communicate if needed. It wasn’t exactly going to be shadowing anyone down the street or hiding in a doorway on surveillance.’

Miller called the claims of surveillance ‘misinformed’ and accused them of damaging ‘public trust.’ 

‘This is a piece of equipment we won’t have when it could make police officers or victims safer,’ he said.

At a press briefing earlier this month, de Blasio had called videos of the robot ‘unsettling’ and told the NYPD to ‘rethink’ how it uses robots like the Digidog.

‘I haven’t seen it, but I certainly share the concern that if in any way it’s unsettling to people, we should rethink the equation,’ de Blasio said. 

‘I don’t know what is being done to test it — I’ll certainly talk to the commissioner about it. I don’t want people to feel that something is happening that they don’t know about. So we’ll work that out.’

Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio, told The New York Times on Wednesday that he was ‘glad the Digidog was put down.’

‘It’s creepy, alienating and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers,’ Neidhardt said. 

The $94,000 contract in which the NYPD leased the dog was scheduled to end in August but was terminated on April 22, outlets reported. 

Details regarding the contract were revealed after a subpoena was sent from NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson and City Councilman Ben Kallos.  

DailyMail.com has reached out to Boston Dynamics for more information and additional comment.

On its website, Boston Dynamics calls the dog Spot, and claims ‘Spot is not designed to conduct mass surveillance, or to replace police officers.’

‘The robot has been used to help humans remotely evaluate potentially dangerous situations that include explosives or other environments where the risk to human health and safety is high,’ the company notes. 

‘In addition, Boston Dynamics’ Terms and Conditions prohibit the use of Spot to harm or intimidate people or animals. Terms also require compliance with all applicable laws, including privacy laws.’

The dog appeared at crime scenes in February when two men were being held hostage in an apartment in the Bronx borough of New York City

However its use was quickly blasted by everyone from local politicians to late night hosts

The dog appeared at crime scenes in February when two men were being held hostage in an apartment in the Bronx borough of New York City, however its use was quickly blasted by everyone from local politicians to late night hosts

The company claims that Spot helps police and fire departments with visibility during potentially dangerous situations and lets them assess a scene before taking action – which can ‘improve safety and de-escalate conflict.’

The dog appeared at crime scenes in February when two men were being held hostage in an apartment in the Bronx borough of New York City. The men had been ‘threatened at gunpoint, tied up and tortured for hours,’ The New York Times reported at the time. 

However, the use of the dog was quickly blasted on The Daily Show by host Trevor Noah.

‘Wow, a robot dog? What a cool way for the police to say they have too much money and should be defunded,’ Noah said.

The robot dog has faced comparison’s to an episode of the British dystopian show Black Mirror – which the show’s creator has said was actually inspired by similar robots made by Boston Dynamics.  

Black Mirror series creator Charlie Brooker said the ‘Metalhead’ episode was inspired in part by Boston Dynamics, Entertainment Weekly reported.  

‘That’s actually scarily correct. It was from watching Boston Dynamics videos,’ he said.

However, Miller described comparing Spot with the vicious robots in Black Mirror as ‘a reach.’

‘When people have to borrow from fantasy to come up with a rationale, it is a reach,’ he told the Daily News. 

‘Cops have to deal with real world situations, and I need real world tools.’ 

Biden considers raising US refugee cap to 62,500 after Democrat backlash

Biden may finally raise the refugee cap to 62,500 in 2021 after White House flip-flops several times and was accused by Democrats of sticking with Trump’s ‘xenophobic policies’

  • President Joe Biden’s administration may again set the refugee cap at 62,500 for 2021, after 11 days of mixed messaging on the subject 
  • The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the White House was again considering setting the refugee cap to the higher number
  • The administration had first committed to 62,500 in February before announcing on April 16 that it would leave the 15,000 cap in place 
  • After several hours of pushback from refugee groups and liberal activists, the White House said a new cap would be announced on May 15 
  • The Post charted that the White House changed its story on what happened six times in three weeks 
  • Biden said on April 17 that he was concerned about resources because of the uptick in migrants coming to the southern border 
  • On April 1, White House press secretary Jen Psaki had denied the two issues were related  

President Joe Biden’s administration may finally set the refugee cap at 62,500 for 2021, after 11 days of mixed messaging on the subject. 

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the White House was again considering setting the refugee cap to the higher number, which the administration had first committed to in February, before announcing on April 16 that it would leave the cap at 15,000.

The move infuriated refugee groups and political allies on the left.

Progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, said it was an example of Biden ‘upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin.’  

A Post story from Friday tracked the White House changing its story about what happened six times in three weeks.  

President Joe Biden’s administration may set the refugee cap at 62,500 for the remainder of fiscal year 2021, after 11 days of mixed messaging on the subject 

President Joe Biden's White House has had to play clean-up after an April 16 announcement that said the refugee cap would remain at the Trump-era low of 15,000

President Joe Biden’s White House has had to play clean-up after an April 16 announcement that said the refugee cap would remain at the Trump-era low of 15,000 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki had said on April 1 that moving the refugee cap wasn’t tied to the surge of migrants at the southern border. 

However, on April 17, the president said that it did. 

‘The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people,’ Biden said. ‘We couldn’t do two things at once. But now we are going to increase the number.’ 

The Post had also reported that ‘Biden harbored concerns about what the sharp increase in migrants at the southern border meant for the government’s capacity to handle an influx of refugees from elsewhere.’ 

The Office of Refugee Resettlement is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, which is also tasked with providing housing for unaccompanied minors who have crossed the southern border. 

On Wednesday, Psaki spoke of the ‘challenges to our resources’ when initially asked why Biden overruled Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other national security experts by keeping the cap at the lower number for the April 16 announcement. 

‘I’m obviously not going to get into private conversations between the president and members of his national security team,’ Psaki first said.  

She then noted that funding has been transferred from other areas of HHS to address the crunch of children coming into the country over the border. 

She also pointed out that there had been a Trump-era hiring freeze at the ORR.  

Biden’s larger aim was to move the cap to 125,000 a fiscal year. 

In February, he had suggested half of that could be met in the remaining months of 2021, with the 2022 fiscal year beginning in October. 

But on closer inspection, the administration believed that wouldn’t be doable, which led to the April 16 announcement of keeping the Trump-era cap. 

But the Post reported Tuesday that sources inside the administration ‘suddenly sound hopeful’ that the 62,500 number can be close to being met. 

The White House said it would put out a new number in advance of May 15. 

That date was set on April 16, after refugee resettlement groups and liberal allies pushed back in protest over the announcement that the cap wouldn’t yet budge. 

The Post reported that a final decision hasn’t been made.   

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