Cameras have become a ubiquitous part of life thanks to smartphones. It’s now easier than ever to record an event as it happens, and that extends to police conduct in public as well. Such recordings of arrests have been instrumental in determining whether police acted within the law when suspects have later pursued lawsuits for police misconduct.
Unfortunately, this means that some police officers have become wary of average citizens exercising their rights to record them, and will sometimes threaten or otherwise attempt to dissuade the public from recording them. It’s important to note that there is absolutely no law or ordinance in the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois or at the federal level that bars recording police in public, but there are things to keep in mind if you notice the police doing something in public that you believe warrants recording it.
Tips for Recording Police in Public
First, it remains illegal to record private conversations in the state of Illinois. There is no legal authority to record police when they are off-duty without their permission, or if two officers are speaking to each other in a restaurant. However, you are perfectly within your rights to record police if you see them conducting an arrest. Keeping this in mind, there’s no reason to attempt to hide what are you doing. An officer may object to the recording and tell you that you are breaking a law. You are within your rights to tell him clearly and respectfully that you are not breaking any state or federal law and continue recording.
However, you may not interfere with a police officer’s official duties. If a police officer needs to get past you to complete an arrest or obtain a piece of evidence, you have no authority to get in his way while recording. You still must listen to police orders to stay out of the way for the safety of you and other members of the public, and obey these orders. Under Illinois law, you also must identify yourself if a police officer requests this information.
The worst case scenario is that even though you are acting within the law, the police officer finds some reason to arrest you. It is extremely important to understand that even though this arrest is without any legal grounds, you are not entitled to resist arrest and must allow yourself to be taken into custody. You may then request an attorney who will seek to have any charges brought against you dismissed and ensure that the recording of the police encounter is preserved.
Need Legal Help?
It’s important to remember that police officers enforce the law, they are not above it. If you believe you have been the victim of police misconduct, it’s important to hold officers accountable for their violations of the law and ensure you are fairly compensated for any injuries you sustained. For more information, contact Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation.
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