By Jamey Dunn
The Illinois House today approved a bill that supporters say would bring the state's eavesdropping law in line with modern technology.
Senate Bill 1808 would allow people to make audio recordings of police officers who are on duty and in public. Currently, making such a recording without permission is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
The 7th Circuit U.S. Courts of Appeals recently barred enforcement of the law as the court takes up a related case, and a preliminary ruling from the court said that it was likely unconstitutional. Other Illinois courts have ruled that the law is unconstitutional.
Rep. Elaine Nekritz, who sponsors the bill, said that these rulings provide lawmakers with an even more “compelling” reason to change the law. Nekritz made a failed attempt to pass another version of the plan earlier in the legislative session before the 7th Circuit Court issued its injunction. “So now we have three Illinois courts telling us: ‘Illinois General Assembly, your statue is unconstitutional. You need to make changes.’”
This new version of the plan includes a provision that Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, said she hopes will ease concerns from some law enforcement officials. The measure would bar using an edited recording to file a complaint against an officer. Nekritz said if a doctored recording were used for a complaint, the issue would be referred to a state’s attorney, who would decide whether the offense warranted a felony or misdemeanor charge.