Illinois moved once step closer to making it legal to record police officers in public. But not before some absurd protestations from law enforcement organizations.
The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police warned the bill could scare witnesses who fear their conversations at a crime scene would be monitored by organized crime.
“Because of the Illinois eavesdropping statute, officers cannot record that conversation without a court order. This is not leveling the playing field,” Coughlin said. “This is giving more rights to private citizens to collect evidence of a crime than officers have.”
One concern of law enforcement groups is that the legislation would allow criminals and gang members to record the police’s interactions with potential witnesses and informants.
“It may have a chilling effect on victims coming forward if they know that a person that’s not a member to that conversation can come up and record whatever they say to the police,” Coughlin said.
The Illinois law already provides an exception for police to record conversations in public, which is why some police departments in the state can require officers to wear microphones on their uniforms.
As for the mob or gang members or al-Qaeda recording witness conversations with cops, police already have the authority to secure a crime scene. And if you’re talking to a potential witness against the mafia, I’m not sure why you’d be doing it in an open, public space, anyway. It isn’t as if this new law gives anyone permission to put bugs in squad cars or police stations.
In the past, prosecutors and the police unions have claimed allowing the recording of cops could pose a threat to homeland security, and may make cops hesitant about shooting people.
To his credit, Chicago police superintendent Gary McCarthy supports the new law.