ISP receives FAA approval for unmanned aircraft program - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

ISP receives FAA approval for unmanned aircraft program


The Illinois State Police received authorization on Friday, May 8 from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct Unmanned Aircraft System missions throughout the state.

ISP said it has spent the past two years developing the program to ensure safety and compliance with all FAA and statutory requirements.

As part of the FAA certification process, all aspects of the program were assessed.

The UAS is a small aircraft remotely controlled by a certified pilot at all times.

Police say the primary function of ISP's UAS program is to enhance the documentation of traffic crash scenes and crime scenes. They say the ability to get accurate measurements and clear images from aerial photographs will significantly reduce the amount of time highways are closed during the initial investigation of major traffic crashes.

Illinois law allows law enforcement to use a UAS only in certain circumstances, such as natural disasters, searches for missing persons, documenting traffic crashes and crime scenes or if the Department of Homeland Security identifies a specific risk of terrorism.

ISP said its UAS program is not being implemented for surveillance purposes.

Except in emergency situations, a search warrant must be obtained before the UAS can be used on private property. During the program's development, ISP said they coordinated with legislators and civil rights groups to ensure privacy concerns were addressed.

ISP said use of the term "drone" is intentionally avoided because "it carries the perception of pre-programmed or automatic flight patterns, and random, indiscriminate collection of images and information."

According to ISP, any information gathered by the UAS must be destroyed after 30 days, and must not be disclosed unless reasonable suspicion exists that the information contains evidence of criminal activity, or is relevant to an ongoing investigation.

They say this requirement also applies to information provided to law enforcement by a private third party, even if that information was not solicited by the law enforcement agency.

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