FAA approves Illinois State Police unmanned aircraft program

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SPRINGFIELD - Illinois State Police officials have announced that the Federal Aviation Administration has authorized the use of drones by the ISP to conduct unmanned aircraft system missions throughout the state.

Officials say drones will be used to enhance the documentation of traffic crash scenes and crime scenes.  Authorities say the ISP has developed this program over the last two years in order to ensure safety and compliance with FAA and statutory requirements.

Under current Illinois law, law enforcement agencies are only allowed to use drones in certain circumstances, such as natural disasters, searches for missing persons, documenting traffic crashes or crime scenes, or if a specific risk of terrorism is identified by the Department of Homeland Security.  Authorities also say this program is not being used for surveillance purposes, as a search warrant must by obtained before using unmanned aircraft on private property, with the exception of emergency situations.

All information gathered by drones in this program is required to be destroyed after 30 days, and must not be disclosed unless there is reasonable suspicion that the information contains evidence of criminal activity or is relevant to an ongoing investigation.
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