Chirkun: Ionia Prison Incident Shows Need to Ban Operating Drones Near Prisons

Drone used to drop cell phone and drugs inside Ionia prison
Thursday, August 17, 2017

LANSING — State Rep. John Chirkun (D-Roseville) said today that his bill, House Bill 4248, which would prohibit a person from flying a drone near state prisons and other government buildings, could prevent incidents like the one that took place earlier today near an Ionia prison. Early this morning, three people were arrested after using a drone to drop a cell phone and drugs inside the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia. Corrections officers at the facility notified local law enforcement officials who then apprehended three people near the prison.

“As we’ve seen with this incident and others across the country, drones can easily be used to smuggle dangerous contraband like drugs, weapons and cell phones inside prisons, and we were just lucky that this incident happened when guards were nearby and could intercept the contraband,” said Chirkun, a former Wayne County sheriff’s deputy. “My bill would give us another tool to use against people who operate drones for illegal purposes. I hope to see the House Committee on Communications and Technology give my bill a hearing as soon as session begins again in September, so we can move it through the Legislature and to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. We need to act quickly to enact added protections for our corrections officers, law enforcement officials and others who work inside our prisons.”

Chirkun’s bill was introduced in February and has yet to have a hearing. The bill would prohibit the flying of any unmanned aircraft system within 1,000 feet of a correctional facility or jail, a building from which a municipal police department or county sheriff’s department operates, a state police post or headquarters, or a state court building.