Drone Program

Program OverviewBlack drone with camera in blue sky and water tower in background

The Village of Lombard has adopted a Drone program to enhance response capabilities to a variety of incidents and events. The program was modeled based on the policies of other area agencies that have established Drone programs and follows industry standards as well as Federal Aviation Administration requirements.

The Police Department obtained certifications, developed procedures, and purchased the equipment best suited for the department and the needs of the community. At this time, nine officers are trained and certified to operate drones as a government public safety agency. 

The priorities established for the Police Department drone program are to:

  • Provide cutting-edge traffic collision and crime-scene evidence documentation methods.
  • Minimize risk to the public and officers by providing additional options to avoid violent encounters and utilize de-escalation tactics.
  • Aid in the search and rescue of missing persons. 
  • Enhance response to bomb squad incidents, fire support, hazardous materials incidents and other critical incidents in which it would reduce the risk to personnel entering a hazardous environment.
  • Aid in assessing a natural disaster or a hazardous material situation.

For more information, refer to the Lombard Police Department Drone Policy (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a drone or UAS? 

UAS is an Unmanned Aircraft System or Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) and is commonly called a drone. A drone is an aerial device with an onboard computer that is operated remotely, generally by a pilot on the ground using a handheld controller. Small drones are battery-operated, weigh less than 55 pounds, have several rotors like a helicopter, and are equipped with a video camera.

Where are the video and photos taken by the drone stored?

After each drone deployment by Lombard Police the recorded data will be reviewed and evaluated for evidentiary value. Data of identifiable individuals captured during a drone deployment will not be retained unless there is reasonable suspicion that evidence of criminal activity is present. All retained data will be maintained or destroyed pursuant to department records retention and evidence policies and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Who has access to the video and photos?

Video and photos that are collected by Lombard Police drones are stored for the purposes of conducting police investigations and subsequent prosecutions. Accordingly, videos and photos are generally accessible to police investigators for official use only. Like all police records, video and photos may also be subject to additional release under the same rules and restrictions as Body Camera Video and other items of evidence.

How is my privacy protected?

The “Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act” (725 ILCS 167) regulates the use of sUAS by law enforcement in Illinois. This law seeks to protect the privacy of the public while allowing law enforcement use of sUAS under certain circumstances. Each drone operator and observer will ensure that operations of the sUAS are consistent with local, state, and federal law.

Information obtained by sUAS under the permissible uses must be destroyed according to Illinois state law unless there is a reasonable suspicion that the information contains evidence of criminal activity or the information is relevant to an ongoing investigation or pending criminal trial.

What training do drone pilots undergo?

In addition to the training and study required to maintain a FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot License, all Village of Lombard operators train regularly in a variety of locations and settings to ensure operational efficiency. All training is documented, and the records are subject to review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

What rules and regulations must Village of Lombard sUAS pilots follow?

All Village of Lombard sUAS pilots are subject to FAA regulations related to airspace use, and all must have a valid “Part 107” Remote Pilot License or be operating under the direct control of a Remote Pilot in Command. Officer sUAS Pilots are also subject to the Lombard Police Department Policy on Drone Operations, Policy 41.16 as well as Illinois state law. 

What other area agencies are using drones in law enforcement? 

Many area agencies are using drones including:

  • Aurora Police Department
  • Bartlett Police Department
  • Downers Grove Police Department
  • DuPage County Sheriff’s Office 
  • DuPage County Forest Preserve Police
  • Glen Ellyn Police Department
  • Hanover Park Police Department
  • Naperville Police Department
  • Wheaton Police Department
  • Dupage MERIT Task Force