New Yorkers who plan to celebrate Labor Day this weekend may have some unwelcome guests: Police drones spying on their parties.

The NYPD said it will use unmanned aircraft to check on noise complaints and large gatherings, even if they are private events, over the holiday weekend.

“We will use our assets to go up and see if there is a big crowd or a big party in a backyard, based on what the caller says,” said NYPD assistant Commissioner Kaz Daughtry at a press conference on Thursday.

You can watch the live briefing by Commissioner Caban, NYPD executives, and city officials about the safety and security measures for J’Ouvert and the West Indian Day Parade

The NYPD said that Labor Day is not the only event that will be monitored by drones this weekend. They will also focus on J’Ouvert, a yearly Caribbean festival that celebrates the end of slavery and attracts thousands of people to the city.

But the drone plan has raised some serious privacy concerns and may break existing police surveillance laws. The POST Act in New York City requires the police to share their plans on new surveillance technology 90 days before, giving the public time to comment. But the police did not do that in this case.

The NYPD did publish a document in 2021 about how they plan to use drones for surveillance and crime scenes, but it did not say anything about using them for noise complaints or backyard parties .

Like many cities, New York has increasingly relied on drones for surveillance and policing purposes. According to a recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union, some 1,400 police departments across the country are currently using drones at some capacity. 

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