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Hacked email reveals Chicago PD started a secret drone program funded with seized cash


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https://chicago.suntimes.com/city-hall/2021/5/11/22425299/cpd-chicago-police-drone-secret-emails-hack-lori-lightfoot-dodsecrets-city-hall

 

CPD launched secret drone program with off-the-books cash

In an email last summer, a police official reported that its counter-terrorism bureau started a pilot drone program using forfeiture proceeds — money and other assets seized in connection to criminal investigations.

By Tom Schuba and Frank Main | Staff Reporter  Updated May 12, 2021, 11:02am CDT
 
 

The Chicago Police Department started a secretive drone program using off-budget cash to pay for the new technology, the Sun-Times has learned. 
 

Details of the police department’s drone program were included in an email sent last summer by Karen Conway, director of police research and development. In the email, Conway told other high-ranking police officials that the department’s counter-terrorism bureau “utilized 1505 funds for a pilot Drone program that operates within the parameters of current laws.”

 

The drones “have been purchased and the Electronic & Technical Support Unit (Counter-terrorism) is in the process of creating a training to start a pilot. Some of the Drone uses will be for missing persons, crime scene photos, and terrorist related issues,” Conway said in the June 12, 2020, email to former Deputy Supt. Barbara West and Michele Morris, the department’s risk manager.

 

The department’s “1505” fund is made up of forfeiture proceeds — money and other assets seized in connection to criminal investigations. The money isn’t included in the department’s official budget and has reportedly been used in the past to purchase other controversial technology, like Stingrays, which mimic cell towers and send out signals to trick phones into transmitting their locations and other information.

 

A state law that went into effect in July 2018 requires law enforcement agencies to report seizure and forfeiture information to the Illinois State Police. 

 

Over the past two years, the department reported taking in seized or awarded assets valued at an estimated $25.9 million. That haul stems from investigations into alleged drug crimes and money laundering, but the reports don’t give the full scope of the department’s take because details about seized vehicles were redacted.

 

The reports state that roughly $7.7 million was spent over that period on operating expenses, witness protection, informant fees and controlled drug buys, as well as travel, meals, conferences, training and continuing education. The spending isn’t itemized, but the reports state that operating expenses can cover vehicles, guns and equipment, such as drones. 
 

Conway’s message about the drone program was among a cache of hacked city emails that were leaked online last month by Distributed Denial of Secrets, a transparency nonprofit likened to WikiLeaks. Other emails show the Chicago Fire Department owns drones worth at least $23,000, though a spokesman clarified on Wednesday that it hasn’t yet earned permission to start a drone program.

 

Asked about the police department’s drone program, a spokesman said it “regularly investigates new technology and strategies.”

“The Department considers every tool available when it comes to maintaining public safety and actively searches for innovative opportunities,” spokesman Don Terry said in a statement without specifically mentioning drones.

 

“CPD has strict guidelines for all tools and programs to ensure individual privacy, civil rights, civil liberties and other interests are protected,” Terry added. “We also meet with community partners to make certain that all enforcement efforts meet the highest standards and have support among the individuals Chicago police officers are sworn to serve and protect.”

 

Terry and other spokespeople for the police department and the mayor’s office didn’t respond to specific questions about the emails. Kristen Cabanban, a spokeswoman for Chicago’s Law Department, issued a statement Friday saying city agencies wouldn’t answer questions about the contents of the hacked emails.

 

 

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there is also a system in place called "shot spotter" that helps triangulate gun shots to a specific location

 

I dont live in the worst part of the city but on ocassion we get to hear gunshots. Sometimes at night I'll listen to the police scanner and they receive the info before the someone calls it in and it is usually accurate within a stones throw.

 

it is quite amazing but at the same time the amount of surveillance that doesnt do shit to curb any violence is annoying.

 

There are cameras littered across the city, shot spotters, and Im sure a host of other shit we dont know about 

 

 

 

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The amount of surveillance in Chicago is ridiculous. Don't quote me on this but at one point Chicago had the 2nd most surveillance cameras in the world just behind London. And it doesn't do shit. Just another way the politicians can say they are doing their job without fixing the root of the cause of violence in the city.

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