Even Chicago’s top cop is speaking out against the state’s Draconian wiretapping law that makes it a felony for citizens to audio record police in public without their consent, making it almost inevitable that the law will soon change for the better.
However, it is not clear if Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy is aware that the law permits police to record citizens.
After all, the man who took the helm less than a year ago after he was hired from the Newark Police Department insinuated that the law affects officers as much as it does citizens.
That, of course, is not the case. The Illinois wiretapping law allows police to record citizens. It just doesn’t allow citizens to record police.
But as long as he’s speaking out against the law, we’ll take whatever we can get.
The police unions are against changing the law, but McCarthy has already proven not to sway under their pressure.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times:
As a police official in New York and New Jersey, McCarthy found it helpful to record officers politely but firmly informing protesters that if they did not end their protest, they would be arrested. That prevented brutality suits against his officers, he said.
McCarthy planned to use the same approach with the Occupy Chicago protesters.
“The first night, after we made 147 arrests, the goal was to assure that what was recorded was the fact that, ‘Excuse me, sir, you are in violation of the law; You are about to be arrested; You have the opportunity to leave. If you choose to leave, you can leave now. If you choose to stay, you will be arrested.’ Which was the warning that we gave every single one of the 147 people that were arrested that night,” McCarthy told a panel at Loyola University on Wednesday.
“The next day, I said, ‘Let me see the videotape.’ All I saw was this:” McCarthy pantomimed officers mouthing words to protesters.
“This is a foreign concept to me,” McCarthy said. “This is problematic, because the idea was to show exactly what we were doing was giving people warnings . . . It was an enlightening moment for me. . . . Illinois is the only state in the union that has such a law.”
So judging by the above text, it appears as if McCarthy is under the impression that police are not allowed to record citizens.
Unlike New Jersey, Illinois has a two-party consent law, which requires all parties (not just two) to give consent to make the recording legal.
However, there are eleven other states that also require all parties to consent to the recording, so Illinois is not unique in that regard.
But the other eleven states include an expectation of privacy provision that allows citizens to record others, including police, if they are in public. Massachusetts forbids the recording of police and citizens in public if the recording is being done in secret.
But Illinois’ law makes it a crime even if a citizen is openly recording a police officer without consent.
The law is clearly unconstitutional, which is why it has already seen some challenges in recent months, including being currently reviewed in an appeal.
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