SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois lawmakers have passed a bill that allow law enforcement to fly a surveillance drone during special events.
The legislation, which passed 84-7 in the House, would amend the “Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act.” It would allow the drones to be used during “routed” or “special events,” according to Security Info Watch.
The news came almost a year after the Highland Park mass shooting that left seven people dead and over 30 injured. The new bill includes parades.
“It has been so clear to me that we need to give the police just this one additional tool to keep people safe,” said Senator Julie Morrison, whose district includes Highland Park. She was at the parade with her family when the gunman opened fire.
The drones could not be weaponized and attendees would have to be notified of their use. Facial identity systems would be used, but only in instances to prevent “imminent harm to life.”
Senator Rachel Ventura was the only person to vote “no” in the chamber.
“When we pass legislation that allows law enforcement to potentially overstep privacy, I get a little wary about the slippery slope of what that could look like,” she said. “My heart goes out to everyone who was out at the Highland parade that day and I can’t imagine the terror and trauma it is. But at the same point, we have to find that balance on the spectrum between freedom and safety.”
Representative Curtis Tarver voiced similar concerns on invasion of individual rights. He also said that it took a mass shooting in a predominantly white suburb to light a fire under lawmakers for drones.
“It seems very political in nature, quite honestly. It doesn’t leave the average citizen — who may have had their rights violated — the ability to pursue justice,” he said. “We have mass shootings unfortunately in the city of Chicago very, very often. And nobody here had the political fortitude or concern for people of color to bring a bill that related to drones in some other way to monitor these events. So, it’s frustrating.”
The drones could also be utilized to aid in search and rescue, though they would not be allowed at political events.