Drone technology plan before state Senate

Mar 28, 2013

Illinois legislators are being asked to strike a balance between privacy concerns, and letting police use technology they say will help them do their jobs. IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports on a plan before the state Senate.

Small, flying objects, hovering over your head.  Equipped with shape recognition software.  Watching, and waiting to follow a specific someone around. It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie.

"It sounds almost silly when people first hear about it, but it's real.  The technology is coming."

That's Senator Daniel Biss, a Democrat from Evanston, talking about unmanned drones.  He says Illinois should be ready for them.  Biss is the sponsor of a measure that would require police to obtain a search warrant before they could use a drone.

But Limey Nargelenas, with the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, says the plan's too restrictive. He says police will want drones for jobs they now do with fixed cameras, squad cars, and helicopters without a search warrant.  But he says drones could be more useful.

"Like looking for marijuana fields. We can't get a warrant and say we're going to fly over the state of Illinois, give us a warrant for the whole state," says Nargelenas.

Nargelenas also says drones would be safer, less expensive.