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Congressman says people are struggling to 'put food on the table' while the NYPD spends taxpayer money on 'damn robot police dogs walking down the street'

INSIDER logo INSIDER 4/15/2021 cteh@businessinsider.com (Cheryl Teh)
a group of people sitting around a dog: A K9 dog faces off with Spot, a robotic dog built by Boston Dynamics and used by the NYPD for policing. Mark Ralston/ AFP via Getty Images © Mark Ralston/ AFP via Getty Images A K9 dog faces off with Spot, a robotic dog built by Boston Dynamics and used by the NYPD for policing. Mark Ralston/ AFP via Getty Images
  • New York lawmaker Jamaal Bowman called the use of robot dogs by the NYPD "ridiculous" and "crazy."
  • Each robot dog - created by tech company Boston Dynamics - costs upwards of $74,000.
  • The NYPD faced backlash for using the 70-pound robot dogs outfitted with lights and cameras.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A New York lawmaker has blasted the New York City Police Department's use of robot dogs, calling the expensive investment from the police a "crazy" waste of taxpayer money while people are "struggling to put food on the table."

"People are living in poverty, struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads, take care of their kids, afford childcare - but now we got damn robot police dogs walking down the street," congressman Jamaal Bowman said.

"This is some 'Robocop' s---," Bowman added.

He went on to say that resources should be reallocated to public health and safety.

"Now, not only do I feel physically occupied in my community by too many police, now y'all bringing robot police to occupy my community?" Bowman asked. "Taxpayers need to stand up and say enough is enough because that's crazy right there. That's what you do when you have too much money."

In a tweet, Brooklyn state senator Julia Salazar said that the robot police dog was "an appalling manifestation of the surveillance of our communities by law enforcement" and "an insult to actual dogs."

The dogs, named "Spot," come at a starting price of $74,000 and are manufactured by tech company Boston Dynamics. The company claims that each dog can collect "limitless data" and comes outfitted with lights, a 360-degree camera, and artificial intelligence tools like scanners and thermal detectors.

The NYPD faced considerable backlash after a video circulated on Twitter this week, showing the dog traipsing out of an apartment on East 28th Street, following a man who was being arrested. New Yorkers were shocked to see the dog trailing behind members of the police's emergency service unit and trotting beside armed officers.

But some Twitter users described the dog, which bears a resemblance to a vicious killer robotic dog featured in the 2017 "Black Mirror" episode "Metalhead," as "creepy."

The New York Times reported that the robot dog was on standby while the police resolved a domestic dispute in the apartment complex, and had not played an active role in the police's operation.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged on Wednesday that more thought could be put into the use of Boston Dynamic's dogs on New York's streets, and said he would discuss whether the robot dog should continue on its test-runs with police commissioner Dermot Shea.

"I certainly share the concern that if in any way it's unsettling to people, we should rethink the equation," he said.

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