House Bill 3944, which would have allowed citizens to video record police while acting in their official duty was voted down by the Illinois House by a vote of 59-45.
The State Journal Register has the following quotes:
“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),” [Rep. Jim] Watson [R-Jacksonville] said.
“Why should (the police) have to go get a court order to record these people when these people can record them?” said Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst.
I think anyone who has read this blog knows where I stand on this issue.
If a police officer is conducting him or herself properly and professionally, he or she should have no problem with being recorded while acting in his or her official capacity.
In fact, police should welcome citizen videos, because they will help them disprove false accusations of improper conduct and/or excessive force.
In addition, I don’t think anyone these days has an expectation of privacy when they are out and about in public. There are surveillance cameras everywhere, and people are constantly using their cell phone cameras to record the most mundane and trivial moments of life.
More importantly, these video recordings are necessary to root out the bad cops who think that a badge on their chest gives them the impunity to arrest without probable cause, beat people because they think they deserve it, or just make up a case because they can.
Here are just a few examples that I have posted on this blog since I began it a few months ago:
This post where a surveillance camera proved that a NY officer had lied when he claimed that John Hockenjos tried to run him over.
Or this one, from the other day, where a Chicago police officer lifted an obnoxious youth by his throat and carried him several feet?
Or this one, where a Florida cop tried to erase his dash cam video after he beat a very sick 66 year old man, and then tried to write in his report that it was necessary force?
Finally, I will quote my November 25, 2011 post:
In Illinois, it is a class one felony, punishable between four to 15 years in prison, to photograph or video record police officers.
(720 ILCS 5/14‑4)
(from Ch. 38, par. 14‑4)
How can it be that you or I could be sent to prison for 15 years for the same activity that the police, city and local businesses conduct 24/7? The City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications operates over 1,500 surveillance cameras watching our every action like “Big Brother” from Orwell’s 1984, but we can’t record a questionable police stop?