Public Safety using drones for campus security
September 22, 2023 2:02 PM

Dear faculty, staff and students, 

Due to a change in state law, enacted primarily to prevent violence at large events, the Division of Public Safety is now able to use drones to maximize safety at the university. We want you to be aware of this change and to share information about how they will be used on campus. 

The Illinois’ Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act (725 ILCS 167) allows law enforcement use of drones to a relatively short list of specific purposes: 

  • To counter a high risk of terrorist attack.
  • When police have a search warrant signed by a judge.
  • To look for missing people (but not as part of a criminal investigation).
  • In response to a 911 call when the sole purpose is to locate and help victims.
  • For crime scene or traffic crash photography.
  • During special events where notice has been posted at least 24 hours in advance to alert visitors that police drones are in use. In those cases, use is limited to detecting security breaches, evaluating crowd density, identifying and responding to public safety issues and assessing traffic or pedestrian flow. Protests are NOT considered special events under the Act, so it will not be permissible for UIPD or other law enforcement agencies to use drones to monitor them. 

For our university, football games and many other large events throughout the year likely will be the bulk of the flying. State law expressly prohibits drones from being weaponized in any way. The Division of Public Safety has no plans to deploy drones generally in the campus area. All flights must fall under one of the specific allowable uses outlined in the Act.

We intend to use drones as mobile security cameras, to provide visuals that humans on the ground would not otherwise be able to access. We look forward to being able to use this technology as another tool to keep our community safe.

For more information, please see our news release


Alice Cary
Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police

This mailing approved by:
Public Safety

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Academic Professionals, Civil Service, Faculty, Extra Help, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students, Incoming Graduate Students & Incoming Undergraduate Students
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