EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — A divided Evanston City Council this week approved a two-year ban on the use of airborne drones.
An unusual coalition backed the resolution, which was passed on a 5-4 vote.
Anti-war groups first brought the issue to the attention of Ald. Jane Grover (7), who also found supporters among privacy advocates and Libertarians. Grover said she is interested in assuring that legislation catches up with technology, and believes that within two years there should be a much better idea.
She is hoping to find an ally at Northwestern University, most of which is within her ward. She said she has approached Northwestern’s Associated Student Government (ASG) and has urged student representatives to pass a similar or identical resolution. It is believed that such cooperation would be unprecedented.
Grover said she has not yet contacted municipal officials in the communities bordering Evanston—Chicago, Wilmette, Skokie and Glenview – to determine if they have any interest in a similar ban, or if they intend to use drones.
Opponents at Tuesday night’s city council meeting said that by passing the ban, Evanston is making itself appear tech unfriendly, but Grover herself said she sees ways in which drones could help – especially in a search for someone missing on the lakefront.
She said if Police Chief Richard Eddington believed he needed drones in order to help enhance law enforcement in the northern suburb, that she would gladly revisit the ban and eliminate or modify it. Grover said Eddington encouraged her to seek the ban, even though she said he has told her that it would be far easier and most likely more through to put drones in the air to search for missing persons along Evanston’s lakefront than to assign police officers, Coast Guard and other live personnel.
Ultimately she is hoping for state or federal legislation on the use of drones. State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Skokie) is chief sponsor of a bill that would limit the use of drones for law enforcement purposes without obtaining search warrants, except in cases of national security or imminent danger.
The bill is pending in a Senate committee.