The NYPD’s New, Smarter Car Is Already Cruising Around Brooklyn

NEW YORK - MAY 26:  Pedestrians in Times Square walk past a police car May 26, 2004 in New York City. The U.S. fears that al Qaeda may be plotting an attack inside the country or against U.S. interests abroad. Despite these warnings, the government has no plans to raise the terror threat level and has no details on when, where or how an attack might occur.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
One of the NYPD's current dumb cars. Photo: Spencer Platt/2004 Getty Images

On Thursday, the NYPD announced that a prototype of a "smart" Ford hybrid squad car has been part of its fleet for about a year. The cruiser, which is based out of Brooklyn Heights' 84th Precinct and usually assigned to areas like the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, is one of the high-tech initiatives recommended to the department by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Here are some of the vehicle's features, listed from "appropriate" to "paranoia-inducing," in ascending order: The ability to send information to databases at NYPD headquarters in real time, trunk-mounted scanners that read and store any license plate or address numbers they see (a spokesman said they can pick up "hundreds" of digits in minutes), and censors to detect increased radiation.

While some other police cars are already outfitted with some of that technology, no other vehicle has them all. NYPD Project Management Office head Brandon del Pozo told The Wall Street Journal that future versions of the little Ford "might include fingerprint scanners and facial recognition sensors." Incoming police commissioner Bill Bratton will be the one who decides whether the department's budget has room for the creation of more of these all-knowing, all-seeing cruisers.