back to article New York cops seek tech solution to plod-v-plod shootings

The New York City police, having recently suffered an incident in which a cop in plain clothes was shot and killed by his fellow officers, are reportedly looking for a tech solution to prevent such occurrences. AP reports that the NYPD are consulting with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, after off-duty plod Omar …


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  1. Jack Harrer

    Something's wrong

    Once again somebody looks for technical solution to sociological problem. Kind of like IT security industry...

  2. Lionel Baden

    how does this help Undercover cops

    i dont think they would advertise their presence by a gimmicky handgun !

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a crazy idea.

    I know it seems silly but just maybe if everybody was not running about with guns, then it might be possible that they wont keep shooting each other.

  4. Cameron Colley

    Awaiting the first Cop Tracker...

    Undercover cop detectors will be standard issue to savvy criminals if this goes ahead.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Surely ...

    if the NYPD know where undercover/plain clothes cops are, then the crims will too ....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Imagine the fun to be had when the "Plodmap" is hacked

    suddenly every crim in town will have a full realtime apprehension evasion facility, just like playing Grand Theft Auto...

  7. Random Noise


    If the guy was off-duty and in his civvies, presumably he wasn't carrying his departmental weapon? All the smart guns in world couldn't have let the other officers know this guy was a cop. Maybe they want to implant chips into all sworn officers instead?

    Sounds like some defense contractors trying to use a tragic death as a way of increasing profits.

    Also what will happen when they create these rfid enabled officers? They will be built as an insecure system because to build in any decent sort of encryption would eat into profits.Before long any half decent crim will be able to tell where the cops are at any given moment.

    Pointless exercise. The sad fact is that armed officers have to make split second decisions under pressure and innocent people are shot.

  8. Adam Foxton

    off duty cops

    Do they carry police-issued arms? Also, if it's on the gun doesn't that mean you'd have to have your gun out to show you're not going to shoot them and that you are, in fact, friendly?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Simple solution

    Just don't shoot!

    How long before the crims get hold of cloned rfid tags or infrared beacons and run circles round the cops?

  10. Sooty


    wouldn't the easiest solution be to train your police officers properly before handing out the lethal weapons? Train them to actually look for a reason before shooting someone.

    Or, perhaps it's not their fault. If every man and his dog weren't armed to the teeth, the police might be able to assume that someone is not actually carrying a gun and about to shoot them, when dealing with the general public. And thus, be far less likely to feel threatened and shoot them.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    No such thing as a perfect idea

    All of the suggestions are going to be over-engineered, a huge money sink and will most likely not be correctly used by the actual police on the streets. Yet again, technological projects strike government funding.

  12. Elmer Phud


    If RFID is as insecure as some have demonstrated then the more enterprising ne-er do wells will quickly be able to have thier own police protection scheme up and running - and no doubt it'd be a nice little earner at the same time.

    "That guy in the mask and striped top looks suspicious to me"

    "It's O.K., it says his tag comes up as one of us""

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Perry

    the real story

    is revealed by looking at the first names of the shooter and shootee!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    RE: I have a crazy idea.

    Great idea! Now the police you can order to stop carrying, but what about the criminals?

    We could try banning handgun ownership, then all the guns would be handed in and there'd be no guns left just like London experienced when they made handguns section 5.

    70%+ increase in gun crime in the first few years.

    That worked then.

    The big trouble with criminals is they don't obey the law...

  16. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down

    Obvious question:

    Why the fuck does the NYPD allow cops to run around with guns out of uniform?

    No amount of technology is going to overcome the plain fact that guns have one purpose, to kill, and therefore should only be handled by government employees who have been ordered to kill.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    rotation now punishable by death

    How about not shooting someone just because they turn around?

  18. Adam Foxton

    @Cameron's Cop Detector

    if it's using an IR beacon, then most cameraphones will be able to see it. So assuming that 10% of last year's phones were camera enabled (rather small % but that's the point) then you're still talking hundreds of thousands- if not millions- of devices that are capable of detecting a Cop.

  19. Liam Johnson


    They should simply make it a legal requirement for all crims to wear the traditional striped sweater and black eye mask. Problem solved.

  20. Eddy Ito

    alt headline: Fail and Blue

    It amazes me that when one cop treats another cop like every other civilian it becomes a giant kerfuffle and needs immediate attention. The current police mindset of shoot first, don't question a cops judgement later is bound to produce results like this. At least the person shot was actually holding a gun and had been running down the street, usually the story would be a cop kills, maims or tazers someone holding something less threatening, like a wallet or mobile.

    Simple fix, train the cops to actually obey other cops, especially when in civvies. Cops demand obedience from regular folks so there shouldn't be any difference in treatment. Had the dead officer actually stopped moving when "ordered to halt" it is unlikely he would have been shot, instead, in a move that obviously appears confrontational, he turned toward the other cops.

    Oh, By Sooty, if you actually RTFA you would know the lad who was shot was actually carrying a gun, in his hand. There is no "perhaps it's not their fault." Perhaps they felt threatened because there was a person holding a weapon in his hand. They didn't have to assume anything about the general public or the individual they were facing, the weapon was right there. The shooting cops seem to have done everything by the book. It's sad but I'd wager the one who got shot was probably so pumped with adrenaline he didn't think about what it looked like "from the outside" and just acted as he normally would have had he been in uniform. It was a simple mistake that had an unfortunate outcome.

  21. Perry

    @ Eddy Ito

    The truth of this is that the officers who shot were in plan clothes as was the officer who was shot. We have only the word of the living officers that they called out a warning, what we do know for certain is that six shots were fired and there was no return of fire. This just appears to everyone in the know that they saw a black man running with a gun, shot him and faked up the protocol later, a la De Menezis et al.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: alt headline

    I agree. The real problem here is cops "shoot first" attitude. The only reason why this is a story is that it happened to another officer this time.

    If it weren't another cop, you'd never have heard about it. In the first year or so since I moved to Denver there were at least five cases of cops shooting unarmed civvies. To my knowledge nothing happened more than a dismissal or two. Chicago was just as bad.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silly man...

    Turning towards the uniformed cops with a gun in your hand... Not a wise move given the shoot first, ask questions later attitude he should have been quite familiar with!

  24. Andus McCoatover

    Proof, sadly, as we've experienced often here.

    Guns don't kill people.

    Police do. Mind how you go Sir, with that table-leg.

  25. kain preacher

    Ian Ferguson

    "Why the fuck does the NYPD allow cops to run around with guns out of uniform?"

    All police dept in the US and Canada do that .

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    In "Westworld" ( human visitors had those cool guns that would fire when aimed to a robot, but wouldn't when aimed (by mistake) to another human. As it turned out, robots were issued regular guns, with no safety device at all... (the "safety" was supposedly built into the robots, we all know how it worked ;-) )

    I guess it would be possible to devise a challenge-response system of sorts, i.e. the plain clothes officer would wear a transceiver that would stay silent; the uniformed officer would send a "challenge" code from his/her gun (encrypted in such a way to prevent abuse by an unauthorized third party). Only when receiving such a code, the transceiver would return a valid response.

    (Now that I think of it, IFF is anything but new:

    I wonder how many officers would agree to trust their lives to the reliability of such a device. I also believe that enforcing better engagement rules would be simpler and more effective - yeah, like it is going to happen :-(

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Post #1 has it

    The time taken to look at, confirm onscreen info after a scan has been completed is probably sufficiently long as to be an anti-solution?

    Surely the training must be: if you are in civvies and in pursuit ensure you ID yourself to colleagues otherwise be prepared to die?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I was just thinking

    Can we see some of this blue-on-blue action?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Turn it on , turn it off....

    Why not create an RFID device that turns on when you draw your weapon, badge whatever ? Clearly, the military has worked on problems like this one, albeit in different circumstances and conditions. Perhaps, off-duty cop badges could simply emit a "don't shoot me" signal when they cock their weapons. Would that be subject to any more abuse than a crim waving a fake or stolen badge?

  30. Dave


    "Clearly, the military has worked on problems like this one"

    Indeed, and for hundreds of years, the military has worn standard uniforms for this very reason. Armed, but un-uniformed men are generally considered to by spies, and the Geneva convention allows them to be shot if captured.

  31. Steve

    Solve it with a vat of Dulux

    No-one except a cop who's been issued the equipment is going to run around the streets with a bright pink gun.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plain Clothes? Off Duty

    It seems a lot of the comments on here are missing a key point. The officer who was killed was not plain clothes, he was off duty. For all intents and purposes, he was a civilian running around with a big gun in his hand. Not a very smart move...

  33. Andy Bright

    Suicide by Cop

    Yeah I have to agree that this guy committed what is called "suicide by cop" in the US. You don't wave a gun at the police because while most won't just start shooting, there's always the possibility you're facing an inexperienced cop that might.

    Being a cop this is probably something the victim was aware of. Also the words "Don't shoot, I'm putting my weapon down!" usually work pretty well when you actually follow them before turning to face the police.

    That's because cops in the US are used to members of the public carrying weapons, and are supposed to be trained to not shoot someone just because he has a gun - 'the criminal could be the victim' . There is actually a fair amount of training that's supposed to stop this very scenario from happening, and it sounds like this guy just ignored it all because he was too caught up in catching the person he was chasing.

    There are far less dead Brazilians in the US than you'd believe and despite what television tells us, most US cops aren't all that trigger happy. You do have to be fairly stupid or suicidal to get killed by one. Of course there will always be exceptions, but I doubt this was one of them.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Why are off duty cops carrying guns?

    Well around here (Baton Rouge, LA) they have to - they are legally required to carry a gun even if they are off-duty. Get real folks ... this is the USA - concealed carry permits are everywhere and there are a lot of people carrying guns quite legally, walking around the place, everyday. This IS an armed society - and given that fact I'd say that we have remarkably few shootings. No - I'm not trolling this - it's simply not the UK and your rules don't apply.

    America and the UK are different - very different. Don't get fooled because we all (sort of) talk the same language - it's a very different country with a different history and society. Sure, if we had fewer guns around then we'd probably have fewer shootings - it makes sense ... if we didn't have cars around we'd have fewer drunk drivers too, if we didn't have the Internet we'd be able to round up all the pedophiles inside ten minutes at the swimming pool in the summer.

    (Paris - because she's have known the cop was packing)

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