DRONE webSPRINGFIELD – Recent atrocities have highlighted a need for greater security at large-scale public events, and a plan by Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago) in the Illinois Senate is working on providing it.

Sandoval’s Senate Bill 2562 would give law enforcement the authority to use drones to prepare for or monitor security at large-scale events like concerts or rallies. The measure passed out of the Senate this week.

Sandoval said the bill adds security without encroaching on privacy rights.

"I don’t want Chicago to be the site of the next Vegas-style outdoor terrorist attack," Sandoval said. "But I also don’t want drones surveilling the public’s every move. This bill clearly defines the limited parameters of drone usage to provide for the safety of crowds without stripping the public of its privacy rights."

Aerial drones are already used in Los Angeles and Boston to monitor large-scale events such as the Boston Marathon, and Las Vegas has recently adopted such measures as well.

Sandoval said he was spurred to act on the bill after last October’s massacre in Las Vegas which killed 58 and injured hundreds as a shooter rained bullets down from a hotel room above. Shortly after, investigators learned that the shooter booked – but never checked into – a hotel room overlooking the Lollapalooza music festival in downtown Chicago earlier that year.

"The only thing that stopped an attack on Lollapalooza is that the shooter never checked into his room," Sandoval said. "My children were at Lollapalooza. Fate can’t be our only protection from these shootings. We have to take action."

While the bill increases crowd security, it does not repeal any of the protections of the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act. The bill simply adds crowd safety to a list of exceptions that allows drone usage for the following reasons: if a suspect is reasonably believed to be an imminent danger to others, if a judicial search warrant is present, if a terrorist attack is imminent as judged by Homeland Security, if a disaster or public health emergency has occurred, or if assistance is needed to locate a missing person without a criminal investigation being part of the drone activity.

Senate Bill 2562 would permit drone usage by law enforcement to evaluate crowd size, density and movement to assess public safety vulnerabilities and determine appropriate staffing levels for public safety personnel.

Sandoval also stressed there must always be a legitimate law enforcement purpose for the use of drones for crowd security.

The bill’s passage in the Senate means it goes to the House for further consideration.

View Sandoval discussing the bill here: https://youtu.be/4p179SAhhT4


Office Info

Springfield Office:
Senator 12th District
111 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706

District Office:
5807 W. 35th Street
Cicero, IL 60804