Police Body Cameras in Illinois

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Police Body Cameras in Illinois

Police body cameras will not be mandatory on January 1, 2016, but Public Act 99-0352 creates a policy for their use throughout the state of Illinois. Public Act 99-0352 is the nation’s most comprehensive piece of legislation related to police body cameras.

Both law enforcement and the public seem to welcome the use of police body cameras. Based on evidence collected in the Rialto Study, the findings suggest that BWCs significantly reduce the prevalence of use-of-force by the police as well as citizens’ complaints against the police. Read the Rialto Study.

In terms of the comprehensiveness of Public Act 99-0352, Mathew Hector explained in the Illinois Bar Journal (December 2015) Illinois Bar Journal (December 2015) that the bill: “takes several steps to improve police-citizen relationships by providing a uniform model for the use of police body cameras, expanding police officer training beyond the academy, banning chokeholds, clarifying that citizens may film police officers, and creating a database of officers who have been dismissed for misconduct or while under investigation.”   Illinois Bar Journal (December 2015)

Dash Cam Use Increased Over Tirm
Dash Cam Use Increased Over Time

As an attorney who represents individuals charged with crimes I welcome the use of body cameras. However, the obvious concerns are raised about my client’s privacy and who will have access to the audio and digital video recordings? What will be the impact on criminal trials where one or more officers failed to turn on his or her body camera? My colleagues in the prosecutor’s office will undoubtedly be concerned about the public’s expectation that all officers be equipped with body cameras.

Given the Rialto Study and our common sense that people behave better in front of the camera I support the use of police body cameras.  Of course, police body cameras are not cheap and taxpayers will have to cover the expected bill of 5.6 million over the next two years.  The money will likely be raised through an increase in traffic tickets.