Illinois Evesdropping Bill Passes House Committee

Friday, February 10th, 2012

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.

From the Chicago Tribune:

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.

From Gatehouse news service:

“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.

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23 Responses to “Illinois Evesdropping Bill Passes House Committee”

  1. #1 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “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.”

    Yeah, that’s why the IL FOP opposes the bill. It doesn’t have anything at all to do with people being able to hold THEIR POLICE accountable. The FOP is only trying to protect witnesses. Yeah, that’s the ticket (Credit to John Lovitz ;) ).

  2. #2 |  CSD | 

    If it’s time for the Chicago PD to play the Mob hit in Chicago card. That means it must almost be Valentine’s Day.

  3. #3 |  Josh | 

    If a member of an organized crime syndicate, or just any criminal for that matter, were going to secretly record an interaction with the police for some nefarious reason (such as witness tampering), would they really care if what they were doing is illegal? I think they would do it anyway.

    Also, I am curious what the ratio of organized crime informants getting recorded in public would be versus Illinois police officers being filmed violating the law.

  4. #4 |  Eric Hanneken | 

    This reminds me of when shall-issue concealed carry was debated in my state. The opponents warned there would be dire consequences—shootouts over traffic accidents, vigilantism leading to the deaths of innocents, an epidemic of foot-shooting, etc.—but they all seemed completely oblivious to the fact that this daring new policy had already been the law in most other states, in some cases for more than a decade. If you want to know what’s going to happen when anyone can record cops, there’s plenty of empirical evidence available.

  5. #5 |  kant | 

    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.

    Again, I couldn’t but burst into laughter at this line. It’s as if they assume organized crime is obeying the current wiretapping laws.

  6. #6 |  ClubMedSux | 

    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.

    To paraphrase the Simpsons:

    IL FOP: “Your teenage son or daughter will be scared that their conversation with police is being monitored by organized crime.”

    Me: “I doubt my son or daughter is that stupid.”

  7. #7 |  kant | 

    *I couldn’t help but burst into laughter.

    …stupid typos. They thwart me every time.

  8. #8 |  CyniCAl | 

    “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.”

    This is redundant. Police (read: criminals and gang members) already have the power to record their own interactions with potential witnesses and informants.

  9. #9 |  Ryan P | 

    So organized crime will only go after witnesses that are caught on camera cooperating with police? Just having an underling see the cooperation isn’t enough, apparently.

  10. #10 |  EH | 

    Why are Illinois police officers spending so much time on snitch-based policing?

  11. #11 |  Anthony | 

    #9,
    Kinda seems like they are making the case that “organized crime” cares more about due process than the police do.

  12. #12 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    So we need legislation to make legal activities legal?
    Is every act illegal by default until some politician
    signs a bill to make it legal.
    Cops are arresting photographers for BS charges anyway,
    not photography, like resisting-without-violence [laughter]…
    as if they’re going to respect this law.

  13. #13 |  Bill | 

    #9 Ryan, the gang might have someone overhear something, but if there’s not enough evidence to establish probable cause…oh…sorry, wrong gang.

    #12, Yizmo, Illinois is, I believe, the only state in which there actually IS a law making it illegal to record cops. So in this specific case, there does need to be a law passed to repeal that horrible law, and then at least the cops will have to resort to those “BS charges”. Somehow, I don’t feel better after writing that.

  14. #14 |  Sean L. | 

    “…and may make cops hesitant about shooting people.”

    God forbid!

  15. #15 |  derfel cadarn | 

    The only criminal organizations that witnesses should fear arethe police and the Illinois government. This bill will aid Illinois residents in confriming that their governments and police agencies are even more corrupt than they are believed to be. Hey Barney Fife, SMILE your on candid camera !

  16. #16 |  el coronado | 

    @# 12 –

    “..is every act illegal by default until some politician [allows it to be] legal?”

    Yes. Yes, it is.

  17. #17 |  Big A | 

    #14-Don’t seem to be the case in other states.

  18. #18 |  Goober | 

    Because a person involved in organized crime will:

    A.) Need video and/or audio evidence to present to their criminal superiors that someone is snitching to the police, without which they will be unable to respond to the alleged snitching incident due to Constitutional restraints on organized crime violence without due process of law;

    B.) Give two hot shits about a law telling him he can’t record police, and stop recording once the law is passed (because if there is one thing that professional criminals possess, it is an over-riding respect for the law);

    C.) Only use video/audio equipment to record snitches within the boundaries of the State of Illinois (the reason it is not happening anywhere else that recording is legal);

    the great state of Illinois needs this law. Without it, there will be blood in the streets!!!!1!! Wild, wild west!!1!eleventy!! Shootouts on every street corner!!!1!!!1!!

  19. #19 |  Lynne | 

    I’ve been pretty pleased with Superintendent McCarthy so far. Not only does he support this legislation, he is also on record saying that the War on Drugs is counterproductive and creates a lot of social ills. He’s also spearheading the return of more officers to beat patrols.

    I’m still suspicious of the Chicago police courtesy of corruption and militarization, but his changes and positions are salutary.

  20. #20 |  Bergman | 

    Honestly, I am kinda scared by the idea that my conversation with police might be monitored and recorded by organized crime…you rarely see that kind of honesty, where a police union calls a police force a criminal operation.

  21. #21 |  Dante | 

    “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.”

    Maybe it’s just me, but reading the above and imagining the police officer who said it, the following statement by the Mafia comes to mind:

    “Nice place you got here. Sure would be a shame if something happened to it”.

    Yep. Mafia = Police; Police = Mafia.

    The only difference is the police have a better retirement plan.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  22. #22 |  Windy | 

    “and may make cops hesitant about shooting people.” Oh, let us fervently hope so!

  23. #23 |  NL_ | 

    Obviously the solution to mafioso recording anti-mob testimony is to force them to use pencil and paper. The technology is clearly the problem, not the fact that there are apparently mob guys running around listening to testimony delivered on public streets.

    Though I have to say, having now lived in Chicago for a little while, the police are surprisingly not that aggressive or overt around here. Granted, I live in a nice area, but I lived in nice areas of Northern California and Northern Virginia and the police in both places definitely seemed to me more aggressive, more assertive, and more obvious.

    Though the state bureaucracy in IL definitely seems to have more rules, at least judging by the identification requirements of the DMV and voter registration.

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