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Eavesdropping law update passes House

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SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House has approved a bill that would let people make audio recordings of police officers in public places.

By Stephanie Fryer

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House has approved a bill that would let people make audio recordings of police officers in public places.

Senate Bill 1808 passed with a 71-45 vote Tuesday, weeks after a previous bill to modernize Illinois' Eavesdropping Act failed. The proposal now heads back to the Senate for approval.

Law enforcement officials, who opposed the original measure, said they feared people would tamper with recordings and use them against officers.

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, who sponsored both bills, said under the current proposal, anyone who alters a recording and tries to use it as evidence of misconduct against law enforcement would be referred to the state's attorney.

State Rep. Scott Penny, D-Belleville, has worked in law enforcement for 35 years. "We as police officers are sometimes slow to embrace change, but everywhere I go we are videotaping with our telephones and electronic devices," he said.

Current law allows people to videotape officers in public places, but making an audio recording without the consent of both parties is a felony.

Illinois' eavesdropping law recently came under fire after people were charged with recording police officers suspected of wrongdoing without their consent. In three of those cases, the law was declared unconstitutional.

State Rep. Dena Carli, D-Chicago, opposed the revised bill, saying she fears people may get too close to dangerous situations to get audible sound.

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