Your NPR news source

Widening the Illinois eavesdropping laws

SHARE Widening the Illinois eavesdropping laws
Chicago Police prepare for a 2005 anti-war demonstration. (Flickr/Noah Cafferty)

Some lawmakers want to give Illinois residents the right to record police officers. Illinois has one of the toughest eavesdropping laws in the country. As it stands, police and businesses can record citizens, but citizens can not record them back.

Currently, recording an on-duty police officer, on public property, could mean felony charges and up to 15 years behind bars.

State representative Elaine Nekritz is sponsoring an amendment that would legalize recording police and the companies that record their customer service calls. For instance, the kind of calls with a message along the lines of, “this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes.”

Nekritz said some are against her proposal because they worry recordings can be edited and used improperly.

“Most states don’t have this restriction, and we’re not hearing lots and lots of reports about the problems that have been created by their lack of this protection,” Nekritz said.

If the amended eavesdropping law passes a committee Tuesday, it will go before the full Illinois House of Representatives for a vote. Nekritz predicts the vote will be close, but she’s hopeful that the narrow scope of the amendment will bode well for its passage.

She said even if the proposal becomes law, it likely won’t go into effect until after this May’s NATO and G-8 summits in Chicago.

The Latest
A report says US police departments face a three-fold crisis: an erosion of community trust, a violent-crime surge, and dwindling police staffing. Host: Mary Dixon; Reporter: Chip Mitchell
David Brown was appointed superintendent of the Chicago Police Department less than three years ago.
The governor says he is visiting “liberal cities” who he says are too soft on crime.
The Bureau of Prisons is shutting down a unit at its newest penitentiary in Illinois, following an investigation by NPR and The Marshall Project that exposed it was rife with violence and abuse.