Lake Forest Police Officer Erik Blomberg operates a drone, which will be used in Lake Forest during Tuesday’s Independence Day events. | Photo via Lake Forest Police Department

Multiple Lake County police departments will be using drones to surveil Fourth of July events in the wake of last year’s mass shooting in Highland Park.

The Vernon Hills Police Department said they recognize that the first anniversary of last year’s parade shooting in Highland Park “may cause concern for residents and visitors otherwise likely to enjoy our community’s Independence Day celebrations.”

“It is with this realization, and not in response to any threat, that the Vernon Hills Police Department will be implementing enhanced security protocols for the July 4th Parade and Fireworks,” the department said in a statement.

The measures will be varied but may involve the use of drones, officers checking bags and officers positioned on rooftops or elevated surfaces.

Police personnel will be equipped to respond to “any threat in the unlikely event one should arise.”

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“While we recognize these visible cues may serve as reminders of the heartbreak felt in our broader community, they have been implemented with the sincere hope of ensuring a safe and enjoyable celebration for all,” the police department said.

Police and fire departments in the area have increased staffing for this year’s events.

Residents are asked to remain alert and report any suspicious activity or circumstances to police.

The Lake Forest Police Department said they would also use drones to monitor upcoming events.

“Don’t be surprised to see new signs and drones flying tomorrow at the Lake Bluff Parade and the Lake Forest, Festival & Fireworks,” the department said in a statement.

“Proactively monitoring special events with drones is one more way the Lake Forest Police Department can provide a safe environment for all participants,” the department added.

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The Deerfield Police Department said they will also be operating a drone during their village’s Fourth of July parade.

“The use of Police Drones is in accordance with all applicable State and FAA Laws and is used for real time monitoring for participants and their safety,” the department said.

The Highland Park Police Department is also expected to use drones as part of their surveillance of Highland Park city’s planned events on Tuesday.

The “Drones as First Responders Act” passed the Illinois General Assembly earlier this year to allow police agencies to use drones to monitor large special events, like parades and festivals.

State Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Lake Forest, was a co-sponsor of House Bill 3902.

She was inspired by last year’s Highland Park shooting. Morrison and her family were riding in the parade when shots rang out.

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“Drones provide an invaluable resource that can be used to monitor large crowds for suspicious activity,” Morrison said. “This technology exists – there’s no reason we shouldn’t put it in the hands of law enforcement.”

The legislation was signed into law by the governor last month.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering hailed the legislation, saying that allowing law enforcement to use drones to monitor large-scale events will “increase their ability to secure an area, and save time while improving the delivery of life-saving services.”