After mass shooting, Chatham residents mull possibility of drones to fight crime

Ald. Roderick Sawyer envisioned a booming voice emitted from a drone that would disrupt criminal behavior: “We see you....we’re recording you right now... we see everything that you’re doing.”

SHARE After mass shooting, Chatham residents mull possibility of drones to fight crime
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) discussed drones to fight crime with about 50 constituents gathered in his South Side office Monday night to consider public safety ideas.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) discussed drones to fight crime with about 50 constituents gathered in his South Side office Monday night to consider public safety ideas.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Fear is high two weeks after a mass shooting left one dead and nine injured on the 75th Street business corridor, and members of the Chatham and Park Manor communities looked to the skies for a possible solution to the violence.

The idea: employ the use of video-equipped drones that could travel up to 100 mph and be on location within minutes to provide an eye-in-the-sky presence to fight crime.

Such drones could be summoned through a smartphone app by subscribing businesses or potentially even individualresidents, Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) told about 50 constituents gathered in his South Side office Monday night to spitball public safety ideas.

MySkaut, a private Chicago-based “aerial security” company, would provide the service, which could also potentially be funded by the creation of an additional tax for residents of his ward who’d benefit from the service, Sawyer said.

Sawyer said police can’t be in all places at all times, and envisioned a booming voice coming from a drone that would disrupt criminal behavior.

“We see you....we’re recording you right now... we see everything that you’redoing. You’re picking your nose right now. We see you!” Sawyer said.

Drone operators would be able to record video, keep tabs on people fleeing a crime scene and share information with police.

The drones could be coupled with on-the-ground private security officers,Sawyer said.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) discussed drones to fight crime with about 50 constituents gathered in his South Side office Monday night to consider public safety ideas.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) discussed drones to fight crime with about 50 constituents gathered in his South Side office Monday night to consider public safety ideas.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Josephine Wade, owner of Josephine’s restaurant, expressed a willingness to give drones a try because she desperately wants a safe neighborhood.

“I own a business, and right now I’m frightened to death to even have anybody in the building it’s so much shooting,” she said. “If we could get a drone to monitor certain corridors, then maybe we can catch some of this crime.”

Chris Kelly, a retired truck driver and former Marine, said he’s in favor of a tough solution to crime.

“If you bring back the law, an eye for an eye, it will stop this mess. If you’re man enough to do the crime, you’re man enough to do the time. I’m sorry that’s just me. But a lot of people are more compassionate,” said Kelly.

He was open to the idea of private drones but said too often meetings like the one he attended resulted in “just talk.”

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