Why we’re suing the NYPD over drone denials.

Three rejected requests, three rejected appeals. It’s time to call the lawyers.

Written by Shawn Musgrave
Edited by JPat Brown

Back in June, MuckRock submitted its third request for drone documents with the NYPD, drawing upon the now-overwhelming evidence that the department was openly exploring their opportunities to implement UAVs into their police work. But despite its public candor, the NYPD still insists that it cannot release any documents whatsoever.

In the latest rejection, NYPD Lt. Richard Mantellino claims that disclosing the requested documents would “reveal non-routine investigative techniques or procedures” and thus “enable miscreants to tailor their conduct in anticipation of law enforcement efforts.” Furthermore, Mantellino responded that any such disclosure “could endanger the life or safety of persons in New York City.”

This dubious logic was upheld on appeal in late September, leaving us with no other recourse but to sue for the sake of transparency. Which, with the help of Motherboard, is exactly what our legal representation did last Friday:

In particular, our petition points out, the NYPD Freedom of Information staff failed to do more than parrot language from the New York public records law and did not point to specific justifications for withholding its drone documents. As the petition puts it succinctly:

“Since respondent NYPD has steadfastly refused to respond to the FOIL request, and since [we] have exhausted all available administrative remedies, [we] respectfully request the Court order respondents to produce the documents sought in the Request.”

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for December 22. For more information, read the full story on Motherboard.


Image via Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0