A Robot Takes Over New York

Robot touching computer screen

New York City Goes Hi-Tech

In April 2023, New York City officials revealed several technologically advanced law enforcement tools. One is the robotic police dog known as ‘Digidog,’. 

This 4-legged, 70-pound robot initially faced criticism for its “eerie presence” when introduced 2 1/2 years ago., but the new addition, which includes a GPS tracker, was introduced in a manner that prioritizes transparency and collaboration with the community, according to Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell. The unveiling occurred at a Times Square press conference attended by Mayor Eric Adams—the exact location where the K5 robot was displayed sometime after this.

Digidog is back in action,” announced Adams, emphasizing that it is now an integral part of the city’s law enforcement toolkit” said Adams. He also advised that Digidog would only be deployed in high-risk situations, such as hostage standoffs.


Adams implied that he would not be influenced by the small group of people who protested the robot due to its dystopian image, but he did say he would consider their concerns. Adams noted that his commitment was based on the city’s best interests rather than bowing to a vocal minority. 

No doubt Mayor Adams is an admirer of the latest technology that the city can offer to battle law enforcement, but his opponents have several complaints, namely:

Privacy: Critics fear the Digidog could be used for surveillance, potentially infringing on citizens’ privacy. They worry about its ability to record video and audio, especially in public spaces.

Escalation of Force: Some see the Digidog as a symbol of increased militarization of the police, potentially leading to an escalation of force in situations that could otherwise be handled peacefully.

Ethical Concerns: The ethical implications of using robots in law enforcement. Critics argue that using machines for activities like entering potentially dangerous situations removes the human element of judgment and compassion.

Effectiveness: Some question the Digidog’s effectiveness in crime-fighting, arguing that its high cost outweighs any potential benefits.

Proponents of Digidog

Privacy: Supporters of Digidog have pointed out that cameras are currently everywhere, used by both private and government entities. They also say that these cameras have helped in countless arrests and prosecutions.

Escalation of Force: Proponents state this is a subjective viewpoint and not a “carved in stone” scenario.

Ethical Concerns: Mayor Adams has highlighted the strategic use of Digidog in situations involving armed suspects or barricaded individuals, presenting it as a technologically advanced approach to law enforcement where it could potentially save the lives of police officers who would otherwise have to face the suspects themselves.

Effectiveness: This is a wait-and-see to see if the robot’s functionality will outweigh the costs. Supporters state that this is progress and robots and AI are here to stay now and in the future.


The debate surrounding the Digidog highlights the complex issues surrounding the use of technology in law enforcement, balancing potential benefits with concerns about privacy, ethics, and responsible use. 

Despite the advancements, civil libertarians and police reform advocates raised concerns about the necessity and cost of these high-tech devices. Critics questioned the allocation of resources to such technologies, highlighting other pressing needs in the community, such as food access and housing, and criticized the perceived overspending on law enforcement technologies.