Drone Documents (NYPD -- third request)

Shawn Musgrave filed this request with the New York City Police Department of New York City, NY.
Tracking # 14PL105084
Status
Rejected

Communications

From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the New York State Freedom of Information Law (1977 N.Y. Laws ch. 933), I hereby request the following records:

All documents created from January 2005 to the date this request is processed related to the agency's use of aerial drones, remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs), remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs), unmanned aerials (UAs), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and/or unmanned aerial systems (UASs)(hereinafter “drones”).

Please note that this is the third time we have submitted a FOIL request for this type of documentation (see 2013-PL-100448 and 2013-PL-7978). Previously, the NYPD FOIL Unit has invoked "personal privacy" as well as disclosure of law enforcement techniques to justify rejections. However, the NYPD's recent statements to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee eliminate both considerations: the Commissioner very publicly confirmed that the department is researching drones, and Deputy Commissioner Miller indicated that NYPD officers were looking into “what’s on the market, what’s available.”

A December 2010 email from a detective in the Counterterrorism Division to the FAA (first reported in August 2011: http://gaycitynews.com/nypd-may-employ-surveillance-drones/) indicated that as of that time, the department was "in the basic stages of investigating the possible use of UAV's as a law enforcement tool."

Please search specifically for the below document categories, and respond to each of the categories and items:

1) Acquisition documents:

i) requests for proposals (RFPs), proposals/quotes submitted by vendors, contracts, leases, budget requests, project/equipment budgets, cost allocations or reimbursements for the purchase of drone equipment;

ii) Grant applications and award letters for drone equipment purchases;

iii) Insurance contracts for all drone equipment;

iv) Communications (including electronic communications) between the agency head or agency quartermaster (or individual responsible for equipment purchases and maintenance) and drone vendors, manufacturers or retailers;

v) Communications (including electronic communications) between the agency head and agency quartermaster (or individual responsible for equipment purchases and maintenance) regarding acquisition, lease or use of drone equipment;

vi) Communications (including electronic communications) between the agency head and the governor, mayor and city/town manager regarding the acquisition of drones;

vii) Applications (including all components and support documentation) for Certificates of Waiver/Authorization (COA) from the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as COA grant notifications and final agreement;

viii) Contracts for services related to drones, such as data storage, data analysis, image storage, image analysis, video storage, video analysis, operation, maintenance;

2) Equipment logs:

i) Inventories/logs/lists/databases of all drones owned, leased or operated by or for the agency;

ii) Maintenance logs for all drones owned, leased or otherwise operated by or for the agency;

3) Policy documents:

i) Policies, guidelines, protocols, manuals and/or instructions on the use/operation of drones and usage of data, images and video obtained from drone flights;

ii) Communications from the agency head, quartermaster (or individual responsible for overseeing equipment purchases and maintenance) on approved uses for drones;

iii) Memorandums of understanding (MOUs), memorandums of agreement (MOAs) or any other agreements or contracts with other government agencies, private corporations, organizations or individuals to share drone equipment, data, images or video or to operate drones on behalf of the agency;

4) Training documents:

i) Curriculum used to train drone operators and observers;

ii) Training log for all drone operators and observers;

iii) Certifications of training completion for all drone operators and observers;

iv) Contracts, purchase orders, budget requests or reimbursement orders for training sessions for all drone operators and observers;

5) Usage documents:

i) Flight logs for all drone flights, including training flights;

ii) Flight logs transmitted to the Federal Aviation Administration pursuant to Certificate of Waiver/Authorization (COA) requirements;

iii) Reprimands relating to drones, including misuse of equipment and failure to properly maintain equipment.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Shawn Musgrave

From: New York City Police Department

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on June 9, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Shawn Musgrave

Jonathan David
Records Access Appeals Officer
New York City Police Department
One Police Plaza - Room 1406
New York, NY 10038-1497

July 3, 2014

Mr. David:

Under the provisions of the New York Freedom of Information Law, Article 6 §89(4)(a) of the Public Officers Law, I hereby request an internal appeal of your failure to respond to my FOIL request dated June 9, 2014. A copy of my request is attached, along with a letter showing your office received the attached request on June 16, 2014. The FOIL Unit did not respond or acknowledge the attached request within the five (5) business days as required by statute, therefore, the request has been constructively denied and an internal appeal is appropriate.

Please notify me of the results of the appeal without delay.

If for any reason any portion of my request is again denied, please inform me of the reasons for the denial in writing within the ten (10) days as required by statute.

Sincerely,


Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock


Attachments

From: New York City Police Department

A letter stating that the request appeal has been rejected.

From: New York City Police Department

The request has been rejected, with the agency stating that the information or document(s) requested are exempt from disclosure.

From: Shawn Musgrave

Lt. Mantellino -

Per the attached, NYPD was slated to respond to issue a determination for this request by July 18, 2014. To date, no such response has been received. Please advise.

Best,
Shawn

From: Shawn Musgrave

Lt. Mantellino -

I hereby once again assert my right to receive FOIL responses by electronic mail, rather than by postal mail.

Per §89(3)(b), which states that “All entities shall, provided such entity has reasonable means available, accept requests for records submitted in the form of electronic mail and shall respond to such requests by electronic mail…to the extent practicable….”, this is a legal obligation for NYPD to comply with my request.

Please confirm that responses for this request will be sent by electronic mail.

-Shawn

From: Shawn Musgrave

Jonathan David
Records Access Appeals Officer
New York City Police Department
One Police Plaza - Room 1406
New York, NY 10038-1497

August 5, 2014

Mr. David,

This is an appeal for the blanket rejection of FOIL 14PL105084.

Despite the NYPD FOIL Unit's now third assertion, at bare minimum a portion of the requested documents are squarely within the public domain. The remaining justifications for denying the request are irrelevant, lack factual grounding and are asserted without substantiation.

Foremost, that I have submitted related FOIL requests in the past has no bearing on the present request for material, particularly given that the current request incorporates additional information regarding the department's research into unmanned aerial vehicles. In particular, I cited the Commissioner's recent statements before the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, with which the Commissioner confirmed that the NYPD is investigating UAVs for department use. This additional guiding information clearly sets this request as distinct from previous requests.

Furthermore, the NYPD's justification for rejecting my request has evolved substantially with each subsequent request. Beginning with a puzzling determination that "personal privacy" barred releasing documents in response to my first request, the NYPD has rejected my previous two requests on highly suspect grounds, and does so again in response to my latest request. The appeal determination for my second appeal was grounded foremost in my failure to file a timely appeal for the first request, rather than on substantive issues. The NYPD FOIL Unit cannot invoke irrelevant justifications for denying requests.

Similar logical inconsistencies and assertions without justification are at play in this latest request. The foremost justification for appeal is that this request is "duplicative" of my previous two requests. Given the additional information, passage of time and procedural issues in filing my first request, this foremost grounds for denial is utterly irrelevant in the present FOIL request.

Next, Lt. Mantellino relies on the appeal determination for 13PL107978, which again was errantly grounded primarily in the denial of my first appeal, which was due to procedural rather than substantive concerns.

Next, the request denial indicates that releasing documents would reveal non-routine techniques. As asserted previously, Mayor Bloomberg and now two NYPD Commissioners have publicly disclosed details of the department's investigation into unmanned aerial vehicle technology. There is thus very thin justification to assert that all documents must be withheld in the interest of protecting non-routine information.

Lt. Mantellino asserts without support that disclosing these records might "endanger the life or safety of persons in New York City." Dozens of other law enforcement agencies across the country have released documents related to their use of or research into UAVs. This includes federal agencies such as the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and the FBI that have already deployed UAVs in operations. The assertion that releasing documents might endanger safety or lives requires substantial backing and evidence that Lt. Mantellino has utterly failed to provide.

Finally, the rejection letter indicates that some of the documents constitute "intra-agency materials comprised of preliminary information and/or assessments that are deliberative and pre-decisional in nature." While this may be true for portions of the documents, the Mayor and two NYPD Commissioners have publicly stated the department's intention to pursue UAV technology. This decision has squarely been taken. While some documents may comprise pre-decisional materials, there is much that would feasibly not fall within this category.

In light of the above, I respectfully insist that this FOIL request be remanded back to the NYPD FOIL Unit for substantive response and release of responsive documents.

Best,

Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: New York City Police Department

A letter stating that the request appeal has been rejected.

From: Shawn Musgrave

Mr. David -

I have received no acknowledgement or confirmation of receipt for the FOIL appeal below, so I am resending by fax and by mail. I will also send by email to Lt. Mantellino. Please confirm receipt immediately, so that I can send again by mail in case you did not receive the hard copy.

Respectfully,

Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: Shawn Musgrave

Lt. Mantellino -

The appeal below has yet to be acknowledged by Jonathan David despite being submitted more than a month back. Please confirm receipt immediately.

Respectfully,

Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: Shawn Musgrave

Jonathan David
Records Access Appeals Officer
New York City Police Department
One Police Plaza - Room 1406
New York, NY 10038-1497

September 17, 2014

Mr. David:

I have received no acknowledgement or confirmation of receipt for the FOIL appeal below, so I am resending by fax and by mail. I will also send by email to Lt. Mantellino. Please confirm receipt immediately, so that I can send again by mail in case you did not receive the hard copy.

Respectfully,

Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: New York City Police Department

A letter stating that the request appeal has been rejected.

From: MuckRock

A copy of the FOIL petition filed against the New York City Police Department by MuckRock.

From: MuckRock

A copy of the stipulation of adjournment signed with NYPD attorneys.

From: City of New York

A copy of the cross-motion to dismiss filed by the City of New York.

From: MuckRock

A copy of the opposition to cross-motion to dismiss filed by MuckRock's attorneys.

From: City of New York

A copy of the replies submitted by the City of New York.

From: Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County

The judge's decision and order.

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