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Ban on recording police up for repeal vote

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SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers have another chance to allow people to record police officers in public places.

By Stephanie Fryer

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers have another chance to allow people to record police officers in public places.

"This would address some high-profile prosecutions that occurred under the existing eavesdropping law of citizens who have done nothing more but take out their cell phones and record a police officer performing public duty," said state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, the House sponsor.

A similar bill failed in the House by 15 votes last month after police organizations opposed it. Law enforcement officials feared people could alter the recordings and use them to file complaints against officers.

Nekrtiz said the issue of tampered recordings is addressed in Senate Bill 1808.

The new measure requires the state's attorney to review any recordings in which an officer is considered to have acted illegally. Anyone caught tampering with recordings faces a felony charge.

Video recordings without sound are legal in IllinoisIllinois law allows people to videotape officers in public places, however, audio recordings without the consent of both parties also is a felony.

Illinois' eavesdropping law has come under fire. In several cases, people were charged with recording police officers suspected of wrongdoing, without their consent. In two of those cases, the law was declared unconstitutional.

"I think that citizens have a first amendment right to do this, exactly what we are proposing in this eavesdropping law," Nekrtiz said.

The bill goes before the Houses Judiciary Committee on Civil Law on Wednesday morning.

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