New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Public Safety

We must work together to keep our neighborhood safe from crime and emergencies like construction accidents. In the wake of the two crane collapses on the Upper East Side last year that claimed 9 lives, we must increase financial support for emergency services, improve construction regulation and community notice, as well as expand our&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/get_prepared/cert.shtml&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>Community Emergency Response Teams</strong></a>.

Upper East Side Patch Scaffolding Has Covered This UES Sidewalk For Over A Decade by Nick Garber

Scaffolding Has Covered This UES Sidewalk For Over A Decade

City Councilmember Ben Kallos called out the shed at 1772 Second Ave. on Twitter this week, part of a weeklong series in which he plans to draw attention to sidewalk sheds across the city that have overstayed their welcome.

It is a signature issue for Kallos, who since 2016 has been pushing for legislation that would require building owners to make repairs within 180 days of reporting an unsafe condition. The bill has stalled in the City Council, amid opposition from real estate groups.

"New Yorkers need to demand it at this point," Kallos said of his bill. "Landlords don't want to do the work, they don't want to take care of their buildings."

Kallos said he has tried to persuade the city to offer decent, temporary apartments to the residents of 1772 Second Ave., where they could stay while much-needed repairs are carried out.

WCBS 2 Repairs Expected To Last Days After Sinkhole Opens Up On Upper East Side by Andrea Grymes

Repairs Expected To Last Days After Sinkhole Opens Up On Upper East Side

Still, Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, said he is concerned.

“We need the Department of Environmental Protection, which manages our water supply, Con Ed working together to find any leaks underground, making sure that we’re not having any compromised spaces, and make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” Kallos said.

Con Edison said gas and electric were not impacted in the area.

Kallos told CBS2 the DEP believes a 12-inch water main — or a 6-inch sewer main — may be the cause.

Upper East Side Patch Upper East Side Sinkhole Latest: Repairs Continue, Sewer Eyed by Nick Garber

Upper East Side Sinkhole Latest: Repairs Continue, Sewer Eyed

The pavement on East 89th Street between York and East End avenues caved in around 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Initially measuring about 20 feet deep and 8 by 8 feet in diameter, workers later widened it by about 7 feet to perform repairs, City Councilmember Ben Kallos said on Monday.

"They went all the way to the sidewalk because that's how compromised it was," he said.

An investigation into the cause is ongoing and no conclusions have been reached yet, a spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Protection said Monday.

Kallos, though, said investigators told him that the five-foot-wide sewer line had likely been leaking, triggering the collapse.

Within 24 hours of Thursday's collapse, workers had rerouted a sewer line that had been affected by the sinkhole and covered up the site with dirt. Over the weekend, crews expanded the hole to expose more utilities nearby, the DEP spokesperson said.

Monday and Tuesday, the city planned to bring in materials from out of state to continue cleaning out and replacing the damaged sewer line, Kallos said.

Two buildings that lost running water for a few hours had it restored later on Thursday.

Sinkholes often appear after heavy rainfall, like the storms that swept the city in recent weeks, and are not necessarily a sign of infrastructure problems, a city official told the New York Times on Friday.

Still, it triggered fears that the city is unprepared for extreme weather triggered by climate change, having come on the heels of another sinkhole on the Upper West Side and a thunderstorm that flooded subway stations. Kallos told Patch last week that "I don't want to see a Miami building collapse happen in New York City."

Our Town Sinkhole on the Upper East Side by Emily Higginbotham

Sinkhole on the Upper East Side

“New Yorkers are used to seeing potholes - this is on another level,” UES Council Member Ben Kallos told Our Town, noting that the hole was 20 feet deep and 15 by 15 feet. “We’ve never seen sinkholes in New York City, let alone sinkholes this big.”

The size of the hole grew throughout the day as crews worked to survey how much of the earth below had eroded and other possible damage. Water was shut off to two buildings on the street while crews worked, but service was restored by Thursday night. Con Edison also sent representatives to the scene to ensure the gas line stayed intact.

Though the city has massive rainfall and flash flood warnings in recent weeks, Kallos said the apparent cause of this particular sinkhole was related to a 12-inch water main and a six-inch sewer line. The Council member said he introduced legislation in May that could prevent sinkholes such as these from happening in the future.

“If we had smart meters on our water supply and on our gas, the city would have noticed the gallons and gallons of water that was missing between the building and the distribution point,” said Kallos. “We need to catch water and the gas leaks before buildings explode and sidewalks crumble, and God forbid, something like what happened to Miami happens here in New York City.”

The two sinkholes forming in the span of a few days represent an urgent problem that won’t be solved by simply repaving streets, Kallos said.

The Verge The NYPD is sending its controversial robot dog back to the pound by James Vincent

The NYPD is sending its controversial robot dog back to the pound

Critics say the machine illustrated the unnecessary militarization of the police

The New York Police Department has canceled its trial of a robot dog made by US firm Boston Dynamics after receiving fierce criticism regarding the “dystopian” technology.

“The contract has been terminated and the dog will be returned,” a spokesperson for the NYPD told the New York PostJohn Miller, the department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, told The New York Times that the machine was “a casualty of politics, bad information and cheap sound bytes.” Said Miller: “People had figured out the catchphrases and the language to somehow make this evil.”

The NYPD began leasing the machine nicknamed Digidog last year. “This dog is going to save lives, protect people, and protect officers and that’s our goal,” said the NYPD’s Frank Digiacomo in an interview with ABC7. The robot was deployed roughly half a dozen times during its tenure, mostly acting as a mobile camera in potentially hostile environments.

THE ROBOT DOG WAS DEPLOYED ROUGHLY HALF A DOZEN TIMES, MOSTLY AS MOBILE SURVEILLANCE

“The NYPD has been using robots since the 1970s to save lives in hostage situations & hazmat incidents,” said the department in February. “This model of robot is being tested to evaluate its capabilities against other models in use by our emergency service unit and bomb squad.”

Many, though, saw the robot as a symbol of both wasteful police spending and increasingly aggressive tactics being deployed by law enforcement. “Now robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools,” tweeted NYC Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in February.

In response to outcry over the machine, New York City Council Member Ben Kallos proposed a law that would ban the police from owning or operating weaponized robots. “I don’t think anyone was anticipating that they’d actually be used by the NYPD right now,” Kallos told Wired earlier this year. ”I have no problem with using a robot to defuse a bomb, but it has to be the right use of a tool and the right type of circumstance.”

Kallos told the Times this week that deploying Digidog on the streets of New York City highlighted the ongoing “militarization of the police.” Said Kallos: “At a time where we should be having more beat cops on the street, building relationships with residents, they’re actually headed in another direction in trying to replace them with robots.”

AROUND 500 SPOT UNITS ARE IN USE, MAINLY IN INDUSTRIAL SETTINGS

Spot, as the machine is called by creators Boston Dynamics, has never been weaponized, and doing so would break the company’s terms of service. But it is being deployed in increasingly controversial situations. Although the company has currently sold or leases around 500 Spot units, with most of the robots being used in commercial and industrial settings, such machines are of increasing interest to both law enforcement and military users.

Earlier this month, it emerged that the French military has been testing Spot in combat exercises. Boston Dynamics told The Verge at the time that while it knew the robot was being leased to the army, it was unaware it was being used in these exact scenarios. Spot was not weaponized in these exercises but used by soldiers for forward surveillance.

Speaking to The New York Times, a spokesperson for Boston Dynamics said, “We support local communities reviewing the allocation of public funds, and believe Spot is a cost-effective tool comparable to historical robotic devices used by public safety to inspect hazardous environments.”

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New York Post NYPD’s robot dog will be returned after outrage by Tamar Lapin

NYPD’s robot dog will be returned after outrage

Kallos, who has proposed legislation to ban NYPD from using any weaponized robots or drones, told the Times that the dog underscored what he called the “militarization of the police.”

“At a time where we should be having more beat cops on the street, building relationships with residents, they’re actually headed in another direction in trying to replace them with robots,” the Manhattan rep said.

New York Daily News NYPD returns ‘scary’ robot dog to manufacturer after backlash by John Annese

NYPD returns ‘scary’ robot dog to manufacturer after backlash

Kallos — who issued a subpoena to learn that the NYPD leased Digidog at $7,850 a month for 12 months, with a minimum payment of $94,200 — cheered the robot’s return to its maker.

“Our city needs more community policing, officers connecting to residents, not scary military-style gadgets that scare folks,” the Upper East Side Democrat said. “We did the work to find out how much was spent on this and we put pressure on the city to adjust priorities. I am glad the robot dog has been put down and we can use the money that would have gone to buying more of these to invest in communities and building better relationships with residents.”

New York Times N.Y.P.D. Robot Dog’s Run Is Cut Short After Fierce Backlash by Mihir Zaveri

N.Y.P.D. Robot Dog’s Run Is Cut Short After Fierce Backlash

Mr. Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side, took a different position, saying the device’s presence in New York underscored what he called the “militarization of the police.” He said the robotic dogs resembled those featured in the 2017 “Metalhead” episode of the television show “Black Mirror.”

“At a time where we should be having more beat cops on the street, building relationships with residents, they’re actually headed in another direction in trying to replace them with robots,” he said.

New York Post City council subpoenas NYPD for cost of robot dog by David Meyer

City council subpoenas NYPD for cost of robot dog

The city council wants to force NYPD to reveal the cost of its new “Digidog,” days after Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested the city “rethink” its use of the dystopian police robot dog.

Council leaders on Monday subpoenaed the NYPD for any robot-related contracts or agreements with Boston Dynamics, the company behind the four-legged robo-cop.

“The public should know how much each of these devices is costing the city,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who issued the subpoena along with Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

New York Post De Blasio says ‘we should rethink’ NYPD’s robot dog over public concerns by Sam Raskin, Amanda Woods

De Blasio says ‘we should rethink’ NYPD’s robot dog over public concerns

The NYPD needs to “rethink” its new “Digidog,” Mayor de Blasio said Wednesday — a day after a clip of the robotic dog in action went viral and sent tongues wagging.

Hizzoner hesitated when he was questioned about the video, which been viewed more than 8 million times and left some to compare the programmable pooch to an episode of “Black Mirror.”

“I haven’t seen it, but I certainly share the concern that if in any way it’s unsettling to people, we should rethink the equation,” de Blasio said at his daily press briefing. “I don’t know what is being done to test it — I’ll certainly talk to the commissioner about it. I don’t want people to feel that something is happening that they don’t know about. So we’ll work that out.”

The clip showed the “Digidog” casually strolling out of a housing project in Manhattan following the arrest of Luis Gonzales, 41, an NYPD rep said Tuesday.

Cops arrived to the scene to find Gonzales sequestered inside an apartment with a mother and baby, who exited unharmed, the NYPD said. Gonzales was apprehended after about two hours of negotiations.