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SPRINGFIELD – After a mass shooting at Aurora’s Henry Pratt Company in 2019 where five people were killed and six injured, the Aurora Police Department’s drone team began to carefully review how other states use drones to support law enforcement operations, and today the legislation their work led to – the Drones as First Responders Act – was signed into law.

Aurora’s State Senator Linda Holmes brought together that research and the countless months, weeks, and hours of stakeholder involvement from municipal groups, law enforcement personnel, and advocates, along with 50th District State Representative Barb Hernandez. In 2022, legislation was prepared.

“This measure gives police and other first responders critical information in a chaotic situation where lives are at stake,” said Holmes (D-Aurora). “This could spare another community the suffering and trauma we experienced here – it has the potential to prevent more chaos and death.”

Holmes’ personal and policy-centered interest in this effort grew because she knew Aurora police had identified a valid need. Tragically last year, a sniper fired into the Highland Park Fourth of July parade, killing seven and injuring 48. State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) was walking in the parade with her family at the time. She filed legislation last fall and teamed with Holmes to bring their efforts together this spring.

The Drones as First Responders Act seeks to cover larger crowds and provide additional public safety mechanisms against those trying to harm or hurt multiple people at once.

  • Beyond special events, drones will also be able to be utilized in responding to calls, providing real-time information for officers en route to a call. This will not replace the response of an officer, but provide information in advance that will support the officers’ ability to respond in a safe and effective manner as well as secure the scene.
  • There are numerous examples of events, large and small, where it is possible that real-time monitoring provided by drones may have prevented or reduced the loss of life that has occurred.

“This may be one of the most important bills I’ve worked on in my Senate career because it can make a difference in how law enforcement and first responders can gather information and take lifesaving actions swiftly,” Holmes said. “Our communities deserve to feel safer as people go about their lives.”

House Bill 3902 takes effect immediately.