A new bill that is pending in the Illinois House (HB3202), sponsored by Representatives Emanuel Chris Welch, Arthur Turner and Michael Zalewski, and drafted by David Franks of the Illinois State Bar Association Traffic Law and Courts section, would make it mandatory for all law enforcement agencies to have their squad cars equipped with video recording equipment by July 1, 2014.
The new law would become part of Illinois’ DUI and criminal statutes, as a new section of the DUI statute 625 ILCS 11/501.9 and an amendment to the wiretap law 720 ILCS 5/14-3.
The synopsis of the proposed bill states as follows:
Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Requires all law enforcement patrol vehicles to be equipped with video recording equipment by July 1, 2014. This equipment must be capable of recording at least 10 hours of video footage and recording sound with the use of a wireless microphone. Patrol vehicles with in-car cameras are required to record when (1) the officer determines an enforcement stop is necessary and shall continue until the enforcement action has been completed, provided that the recording shall include any field sobriety tests administered during a DUI stop, including the administration of a portable breath test; (2) the patrol vehicle emergency lights are activated or when they would otherwise be activated if not for the need to conceal the presence of law enforcement, and shall continue until the reason for the activation ceases to exist, regardless of whether the emergency lights are no longer activated and, in the event of an arrest may not conclude before the subject is transported and leaves the vehicle; (3) the officer reasonably believes recording may assist with prosecution, enhance safety, or for any other lawful purpose and shall continue until the reason for recording ceases to exist. Requires audio and visual recordings of all Illinois Vehicle Code related stops. For DUI related stops, requires video recording of any observation periods, test refusal, and test administration, including those not conducted at the scene of the stop. Requires officers to report any equipment malfunction. Makes any video recording made under this Section subject to the Freedom of Information Act and subpoenas, but allows the department to charge a $25 fee for compliance with any video production request for the purpose of recouping administrative costs. Effective July 1, 2014.
Personally, I have a problem with the $25 “administrative fee” which is quite exorbitant considering that (a) a blank DVD costs about 20 cents retail and it doesn’t take much time to copy a file; and (b) defendants in Illinois have a right to receive a copy of the video, and there is a Constitutional right to obtain an exculpatory material.
Aside from that, this is a good bill. Too many police officers still do not have video equipment in their squad cars, especially in Chicago. I have noticed that as video recording has become more prevalent, I am getting less and less calls from potential clients complaining about officers “putting a case on” them. Keep in mind that most people who are arrested have no idea that they are being video recorded, so the reason that I am getting less of these calls isn’t because people are “wising up” that their false claims won’t go anywhere. No, it is because police officers know that they can’t get away with charging someone with DUI, just because they can, when there is video recording their encounters.