CPD launched secret drone program last year: report

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CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department reportedly started a secret drone program last year, and privacy advocates have taken issue with it.

The program was uncovered through city emails that were hacked last month and released. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that CPD started talking about using drones last summer.

The hacked emails that revealed the program, according to the paper, were between Karen Conway, the director of police research and development, and several high-ranking police officials. The emails show money from the department’s forfeiture funds. or funds the department gets from money and other assets seized in connection to criminal investigations, would be used for the drones. The money is not part of the department’s budget. According to the hacked emails, the department plans to use the drones in missing persons cases crime scene photos and terrorist related issues. 

In a statement to WGN, the department said it is consistently investigating new technology and strategies and CPD has strict guidelines for all tools and programs to ensure individual privacy. The American Civil Liberties Union, however, has taken issue with the use of drones by CPD telling the paper the department continues to pursue invasive technologies without public disclosure or oversight.

The Sun-Times also reporting the Chicago Fire Department bought some drones in part to help with training.

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