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Everyone Is Openly Strategizing How To Defeat the NYPD’s New Robo Cop

The movie version of robocop, not to be confused with real cop robots, a real thing in our real lives.

Just a month after the reveal that the NYPD is $100 million over budget on overtime alone, they decided to reveal a new way they intend to waste public money: robot police officers. I guess someone missed the point of the movie.

Looking like the offspring of a dildo and a dalek (which believe me, people have noticed), Officer K5 will apparently be patrolling New York subway stations to offer “an additional layer of security & assistance.” How exactly the armless, legless robot could possibly do either of those things hasn’t been explained—probably because it can’t, as the only faculties this shiny misuse of civic resources has are a security camera and a speaker. The most it can do to actually stop anything is get in people’s way, and that’s going to be much more of an inconvenience for commuters than anything else.

Naturally, the good people of New York’s (and the internet) first thought was how to put the money-sinking spy bot out of commission. Suggestions included the obvious (pushing it over, spray paint) to the comical (bag on the head) and the thrifty (strip it for scrap metal)—after all, you’ve got to have your side hustle in this late-stage capitalist, dystopian nightmare!

Given New Yorkers’ disdain for both snitches and anything that makes their public transit experience any more aggravating than it already is, it’s only a matter of time until pushing the spy-bot onto the tracks becomes a civic sport.

Whoever is running the NYPD transit account initially tried clapping back, explaining that the waste of taxpayer money will be stationed on the mezzanine, not the platform (so an even more useless location if it actually were about safety, but we all know it’s not). However, the barrage of inventive tweets about all the different ways people could destroy their expensive security camera on wheels seems to have taught them that joining the conversation isn’t going to work—because now they’re ignoring the responses instead.

This is, of course, unless they’re behind the currently-unverified (a meaningless status on today’s Twitter) Officer K5 Twitter account, which would actually be a smart move because if there’s anything social media has taught us, it’s that we’ll bond with anything non-human so long as it has a cute Twitter account. While some of its tweets look ironic enough, it may well be a satire account instead. It’s honestly hard to tell at this point, given how chronically bad the police always are at reading the room and relating to anybody else.

It’s not just that this is another example of over policing—one that primarily targets low income people committing non-violent offenses at that—that has people angry. It’s that it comes at a time when public services are being slashed in the name of “frugality”—with schools, libraries, and social programs as the primary targets.

The fact that the mayor’s planning on cutting city spending by $4 billion, while nothing is being done to curb police overtime or the rest of their over-inflated budget, means there’s going to be even less money for social programs and public services—even though it has been proven again and again that they do more to cut crime than police ever will, and without criminalizing marginalized people in the process. This kind of ridiculous spending on a glorified CCTV camera just rubs salt into the wound, that the city would rather continue to empower its already overpaid and under-regulated police force than spend money on services that actually reduce crime and improve the overall quality of life for all its citizens.

Empowering the police with more money, more weapons, more guns, always sells better to the right. Actually helping and solving problems doesn’t make them feel powerful; identifying with the people who get to stomp around, enforcing their will on others and enacting state violence—and then ensuring those people have military-grade weaponry and armored vehicles—does. Basically, I’m saying Officer K5 is the equivalent of a really rad sports car, bought by a middle-aged man trying to compensate something—and everybody else is paying the price.

(featured image: Orion Pictures)

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Siobhan Ball (she/her) is a contributing writer covering news, queer stuff, politics and Star Wars. A former historian and archivist, she made her first forays into journalism by writing a number of queer history articles c. 2016 and things spiralled from there. When she's not working she's still writing, with several novels and a book on Irish myth on the go, as well as developing her skills as a jeweller.