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Illinois Validates the Criminality of Recording Public Servants.

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Illinois Criminalizes Citizen Journalism


Leave it to the Illinois General Assembly to do the wrong thing again. This week they voted down House Bill 3944, a bill to amend the state's brutally antiquated Eavesdropping Act.

The Illinois Eavesdropping Act makes it a Class 1 Felony that carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison if you record police officers on duty (as well as some other state officials, such as judges, state's attorneys, etc.).


Earlier this month, Judge Stanley Sacks, assigned to the Criminal Courts Building in Cook County, became the second county judge to recently rule the law unconstitutional.

However, that in addition to the recent acquittals of Illinois residents Tiwanda Moore and Michael Allison who violated the act, was not good enough to convince 59 representatives in the Illinois House.

Only 45 voted in favor it. The amendment would have modified the exemptions under the current act to allow citizens to record police on public duty on public property.

It states:

A person who is not a law enforcement officer acting at the direction of a law enforcement officer may record the conversation of a law enforcement officer who is performing a public duty in a public place and any other person who is having a conversation with that law enforcement officer if the conversation is at a volume audible to the unassisted ear of the person who is making the recording. For purposes of this subsection (q), "public place" means any place to which the public has access and includes, but is not limited to, streets, sidewalks, parks, and highways (including inside motor vehicles), and the common areas of public and private facilities and buildings.


Pretty straightforward, right? So why would some in the legislature want to strike down this bill--especially after two judges ruled the law unconstitutional?

Let's look at what some of our representatives had to say. The State Journal Register, listed three Illinois Republicans that opposed the bill.


Rep. Jim Sacia, a Republican from Freeport, IL, said "the bill opens the possibility for citizens to alter audio recordings of interactions with police to make them look bad."

But does it? Sure, video could be altered, if a citizen really wanted to bust a cop badly enough who wasn't really doing anything wrong--yes, they could probably alter the video.

But are we really unable to decipher when a video has been altered or not?

If an officer was suspected of committing a crime he did not commit, that only altered video could prove, is it likely that the officer would be penalized?

This sounds a little like the flawed reasoning so commonly used by those who are actually caught doing something wrong.

They attempt to discredit the video evidence that proves their guilt by claiming it was "selectively edited," whether it was or was not, and regardless of truth contained in that recording.

Perhaps editing video should be a crime too?


Another Republican, Jim Watson, said “We should not be creating an atmosphere where people enter this ‘got you’ mode and try to tape law enforcement, trying to catch them (doing things)."

Really? We shouldn't? We shouldn't be trying to catch law enforcement "doing things?"

Maybe not, but what if they are breaking laws? Shouldn't we be "trying" to catch that?

If innocent, law-abiding citizens are subject to being charged with criminal activity for catching law enforcement officers committing criminal activities, whether or not those citizens initially set out to "catch them" or not, what protection is there, other than relying on other law enforcement?

In these situations, do those "other law enforcement" not have any potential of being just as corrupt as the officers committing the offenses?


Perhaps the most "brilliant" reasoning by a Republican who opposed this bill was from Rep. Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst.

He said “Why should [the police] have to go get a court order to record these people when these people can record them?”

If Rep. Reboletti understood the law he voted to not amend, he would know this is simply not true.

Law enforcement is required to get a warrant both to search your home as well as to use wiretapping equipment to listen to and record your conversations.



But they do not need one to record you in public.

In fact, current Illinois law explicitly spells out all the instances in which law enforcement officers need no warrant or permission whatsoever to record citizens.

Nor is law enforcement required to disclose it in those circumstances, either.



The failed amendment simply tried to place law-abiding citizens on an equal playing field with corrupt law enforcement officers.

One individual opposed to the law who actually has a point is deputy chief of Cook County state's attorney's narcotics bureau, Patrick Coughlin.

According to Coughlin, "....it would be difficult for citizens to know which places are considered public and which aren’t....it might give people the false sense that they can record police anywhere....You’re simply adding to the maze, which is the Illinois eavesdropping exemption law.…rather than fixing the problem...."


All these things are very possible and true, to which Coughlin may have the best solution, which is undoing the Illinois Eavesdropping Act all together, and making Illinois a single party consent state--like 38 others--where one person having a conversation can record it without the other person's consent.


Edited by ChileRelleno
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wow. so they want it illegal to get proof of their illegal actions. just another way for them to cover up their corrupt actions. what a fucked up state. thats sad.

Edited by Captain Hero
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Illinois is ate up from the floor up anyways, it's not surprising to see something like this pass there...I mean for God's sake, they outlawed "novelty" cigarette lights, and just passed a law that says you can pick up roadkill...

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I respect most law enforcement and work with them alot being a fireman, but I have to say FUCK them.

Sorry, I don't trust cops! Ours have had away of torturing prisoners at car accidents and after being arrested. They were turned in by the firemen and ambulance folks. I have also noticed many times the kick backs, favortism shown to certian people, and judges bought off, and major small town political moving and shaking. So as far as Govt and LE I see them hide behind the law and criminals hiding from the law. That's about the only real difference in likely 50% or greater. Not to mention the drug addict judges, sex favors for lighter sentences, bootlegging kick backs land deals, etc... Edited by Guns Are Great
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I dont understand why someone would want to film a officer that was doing nothing wrong. If it is to catch an officer in the act of a crime I agree whole heartedly but people that just shove cameras in their faces to be dicks I dont get that.

Edited by pitbulld45
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I dont understand why someone would want to film a officer that was doing nothing wrong. If it is to catch an officer in the act of a crime I agree whole heartedly but people that just shove cameras in their faces to be dicks I dont get that.


The idea is they are public servants, for the people. They should be held to a higher standard and if that means being recorded so they dont "act out", then so be it! They are the Police, what could they possibly have to hide while on the clock?

The beef is that we cant get warrants to record Police like they can us and this just further extends their reach.


"This phone call is being recorded for quality assurance". Get it?


I love this fucking state!booo.gif

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Just think of all the police brutality that has been caught on film compared to god knows how much that hasn't. I have seen one of many videos of handcuffed individuals that are being compliant and not resisting laying on their stomachs being kicked and punched by a group of police officers while the handcuffed individuals are screaming and yelling "stop! please!". Some police just have it fixed in their heads that they are above the law and can do whatever they want.


Filming police officers should be encouraged not banned.

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I'm surprised that the leftists didn't bring up the Rodney King video as to why this isn't a good idea.


Now there will be no way to catch future Blagos trying to sell Senate seats because recording his illegal actions is illegal.


The People of Illionois - they are not worthy of the servants that control them!

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I aint lost nothing in that state. no need to go there.

The people will vote on what is in their favor.


Wish it were true, but Chicago will dictate, and the rest of the state doesn't get a say in it. That's the way it is here.


Hell, the current gov. only won two counties in the state to get ellected. The rest of the state voted for the other guy. Hopefully this gov. will end up in prison like the last couple have.

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This topic chaps my ass as much as any I can think of. Cops are liars. Even the couple I have know, one being a state trooper I am really good friends with right now, have openly admitted to me that they lie on almost every report they ever make. They have expressed to me that they feel that the extreme rules protecting the criminals FORCE them to lie about almost every bust in order to close known loop holes that are used to allow criminals to go free.

How devastating to be recorded and held accountable!

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Pretty damned explicit when you've a camera aimed at them, you're recording them... And then you become a Felon.


There is no expectation of privacy in public, and a public servant should have no expectation of privacy while doing their job.

If they're not doing anything wrong, what have they to fear?

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