The Human Services Committee voted unanimously to send a proposed ordinance banning the implementation of drone technology – both weaponized and surveillance drones – until state or federal regulations address such uses. The measure, if passed by the full Council, will be one of the first such ordinances in the nation and dovetails with a state bill proposed by Senator Daniel Biss, currently in committee in Springfield.

The proposal was brought forward by Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward.

Dickelle Fonda of the North Shore Coalition for Peace, Justice and the Environment said technology is way ahead of regulation and the ordinance asks us to just slow down. Other communities “are looking to see what Evanston does” on drones, she said, asking the Committee to keep Evanston at the forefront of progressive legislation. The issue brought together survivalists, the tea party and the ACLU, she said.

Chief of Police Richard Eddington said the police department has no current plans to acquire drones. Technology has become so cheap, he said, that he envisions the private use of drones as more of an immediate threat than government overreaching. He said he envisions drones as potentially very useful in search-and-rescue operations.

“When looking for someone lost on the water, we can cover Howard to Wilmette in about 20 minutes” with drones, he said, while traditional methods take hours.

The measure passed without debate and moves on to Council, where it is expected to meet no resistance.