Northbrook to Buy 2 Drones for Police, Fire, Other Uses

NORTHBROOK, IL — Northbrook village staff recommended buying a pair of drones to be used in emergencies as well as routine events. Both the police and fire departments want to use drones to help first responders and – as part of a pilot program – figure out other possible uses for the new technology, according to a memo recommending buying the devices. Trustees will consider a resolution to spend up to about $29,000 on buying a pair of Inspire 1 UAV quadrocopters and Zenmuse XT cameras with first person pilot’s cameras at a meeting of the Northbrook Village Board Tuesday.

Village staff has spend “considerable time training with this specific UAV model and is confident it will meet our needs,” according to the memo. The drones could be useful to emergency personnel in a wide range of scenarios, such as a missing person search, a crime scene investigation, assessing a natural disaster or a hazardous material situation, chasing a fleeing suspect or responding to an active shooter, village staff said.

Staff have researched Federal Aviation Administration regulations and plan to apply for all certificates needed to operate within the law. According to a memo from Internal Services Administrator Jason Batalden’s to Village Manager Richard Nahrstadt, Northbrook village staff have asked the FAA for waivers to be able to use drones at night and within restricted airspace around Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling.

Buying the drones will also help out other village departments when emergency personnel are not using them, Batalden wrote. Communications staff will be able to record videos of community events, construction projects and village services from new angles. Plus, public works and development departments will be able to use the drones for inspecting and mapping areas of town.

The Northbrook Police Department has $15,000 budgeted to pay for a drone program, according to the memo. Half of the cost of the drones will come from its account, while the other half is set to come from the Public Educational and Government Escrow Fund, which is funded by a fee on all providers of cable and video services in the village.

Both police and fire department staff have already received specialized training for first-responder drone operations from Chicago-based Aerovista Innovations at the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy in Glenview, according to the memo.

A resolution approving the purchases is included in the consent agenda for the Village Board’s Dec. 19 meeting.

See a promotional video for the DJI’s Inspire 1 UAV, the model of drone Northbrook is considering purchasing:

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Top photo: Inspire 1 UAV | via YouTube [Click for More]