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="; target="_BLANK"><strong>Community Emergency Response Teams</strong></a>.

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.

Gothamist NYPD Deploys "Creepy" New Robot Dog In Manhattan Public Housing Complex by JAKE OFFENHARTZ

NYPD Deploys "Creepy" New Robot Dog In Manhattan Public Housing Complex

The NYPD's robot dog is once again stirring privacy concerns and cyberpunk prophesies of some New Yorkers, after the four-legged machine was spotted inside of a Manhattan public housing complex on Monday.

A video shared on Twitter shows the robot trotting out of a building on East 28th Street in front of two NYPD officers, then slowly descending the stairs as bystanders look on in shock. "I've never seen nothing like this before in my life," one woman can be heard saying.

The remote-controlled bot was made by Boston Dynamics, a robotics company famous for its viral videos of machines dancing and running with human-like dexterity. (Versions of "Spot," as the mechanical dog is known, can open doors, and are strong enough to help tow an 18-wheeler.)

Since October, the NYPD has dispatched the robot to a handful of crime scenes and hostage situations, raising fears of unwanted surveillance and questions about the department's use of public dollars. The mobile dog, which comes equipped with automated sensors, lights, and cameras capable of collecting "limitless data," is sold at a starting price of $74,000.

A spokesperson for the NYPD said the robot dog was on standby, but not used, during a domestic dispute at East 28th Street on Monday afternoon. After a man allegedly barricaded himself inside a room with a mother and her baby, officers showed up and convinced him to let them exit. The man was arrested for weapons possession, police said.

Daily Dot The first-ever bill to ban armed robot police dogs is coming by Andrew Wyrich

The first-ever bill to ban armed robot police dogs is coming

Kallos' bill would make it so that any kind of autonomous robot used by police—like robot police dogs or drones—that interacts with the public in the future doesn't have weaponry attached to it, his office said in a statement.

In the statement, Kallos said he wanted to make sure the city didn't feel "like a Black Mirror episode."

"The technology to arm robots already exists and in order to prevent anything like that from happening we have to act now, before the technology gets ahead of the laws," Kallos said.

As Wired notes, Boston Dynamics prohibits attaching weapons as part of the company's terms of service. But the potential for arming robot police dogs is not farfetched.

New York Post Councilman Ben Kallos wants to ban NYPD from using ‘weaponized robots’ by David Meyer

Councilman Ben Kallos wants to ban NYPD from using ‘weaponized robots’

The NYPD has not disclosed the cost of each “Digidog,” Kallos said.

“People are already concerned about militarizing police, and this is stopping them before they get any further,” he said.

“We passed a bill back in the city council that they were supposed to disclose that they were using these robots, and they didn’t. So who knows what’s in store?”

He is also exploring ways to limit NYPD use of aerial drones, which are regulated on the federal level.

“Whether it’s robots or drones, we need to move away from overpolicing communities and get back to the basics of investing in people and giving people the resources they need,” Kallos said.

REAL ESTATE WEEKLY Drones could soon be used for inspecting NYC buildings by Editorial Board

Drones could soon be used for inspecting NYC buildings

council members Robert Cornegy and Ben Kallos sponsored the bill to conduct a study into the use of drones after lamenting on the 303 miles of scaffolding that crowds NYC streets.

According to Kallos, “If laid out side to side, city scaffolding would stretch from Central Park to the Canadian border. The average age of a sidewalk shed is 308 days. One is old enough to have its bar mitzvah, which is 13, and some are old enough to vote.”

TAPinto Crime Takes Top Spot in Neighborhood Public Safety Survey by Marc Bussanich

Crime Takes Top Spot in Neighborhood Public Safety Survey

Meanwhile, Councilman Ben Kallos, who voted against the budget because the $1 billion NYPD spending cut doesn’t amount to defunding the police, doesn’t believe that there is correlation between the cut and an increase in crime because there are more active police officers today than previous mayoral administrations.

“In 2020, we have more police officers than [Michael] Bloomberg had and more police officers than [Rudy] Giuliani had. And we still remain one of the biggest police forces in the country, spending over six billion dollars a year,” said Kallos.

heavy. One Killed in New York Scaffolding Collapse by Rosel Labone

One Killed in New York Scaffolding Collapse

On July 14, a wall collapse at a Brooklyn home forced an evacuation of three buildings.

NYC Council Member Ben Kallos responded to the event in a statement on July 17, where he said, “We cannot keep watching bricks fall, scaffolding collapse, injuring and killing New Yorkers.

“These bricks should never have been allowed to deteriorate to the point that they fell and the scaffolding should never have collapsed.

“We must pass a law forcing the inspection of every inch of scaffolding as soon as possible. We must pass a law to require building owners to maintain their buildings or step in as a city and do the work ourselves. My deepest sympathies to the families of those killed and injured in this latest collapse and they have my pledge to keep fighting so no one faces the same threat.”

NY1 Construction Accident Raises Questions About Oversight of Buildings by Rocco Vertuccio

Construction Accident Raises Questions About Oversight of Buildings

In December, a woman walking near Times Square was killed when part of a building facade fell.

The City Council then considered legislation to allow the Department of Buildings to use drones to inspect building facades more quickly, but the bill stalled.

“It seems not a day goes by that another piece of a building falls on somebody,” said Manhattan City Council member Ben Kallos. 

Building owners often erect sidewalk sheds to protect passersby from debris that may fall from unsafe buildings, but some fail to quickly repair the unsafe condition. Kallos proposed legislation that would allow the city to impose tougher fines in such cases and charge the owners for repairs.

“There shouldn’t be a place where any part of a building is falling on anybody,“ said Kallos. 

ABC7 Partial balcony collapse in Chelsea is latest in rash of structural failures in NYC by Jeremy Murn

Partial balcony collapse in Chelsea is latest in rash of structural failures in NYC

CHELSEA, Manhattan (WABC) -- The latest in a rash of recent structural failures throughout New York City, a balcony partially collapsed in Chelsea Friday.

Firefighters were called to a five-story building on West 15th St. just after 7 p.m.

They determined that a partial collapse occurred from a third floor rear balcony.

The metal cladding underneath the balcony became dislodged, falling into a backyard.

No injuries were reported.

The Department of Buildings was investigating.

Thursday afternoon, one person was killed and at least three others were injured after scaffolding collapsed at a building on East 36th St.

Authorities say it appeared workers were doing facade restoration on the roof level of the 11-story building when a rigging platform gave way.

The incident sparked a call from City Councilman Ben Kallos to pass laws for stricter inspection of scaffolding and requiring building owners to maintain their buildings.