Illinois Lawmakers Provide Easier Access to Body Cameras for Police Departments

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body cameras for police, Chicago Criminal Defense AttorneyTension is high between American police departments and the citizens they serve. Thanks to several recent high profile incidents of police related deaths and cases of brutality, the American public has become less trusting and more fearful of officers.

As citizens demand more transparency between police departments and the public, officials are turning to using body cameras as a solution. Worn by on duty officers, body cameras would record interactions between officers and the public, and could provide detailed footage of any questionable encounter. Illinois police departments will now have easier access to body camera technology and training, as state Governor Bruce Rauner recently signed statewide body camera measures into law.

Police departments have considered using body cameras for many years now. Americans have long worried that many police officers engage in less than ethical behavior, and the fact that many officer investigations are done internally left the public feeling like shady practices were occurring. Body cameras were an often suggested solution; however, the technology is expensive. On top of that, there was no existing legislation detailing how body cameras should be used—police departments were stuck wondering how to proceed.

Now, police departments in Illinois have the knowledge and funding to move forward with body cameras, thanks to the state’s new legislation. The measure’s creators consider it the best body camera law in the U.S. Not only does the measure provide funding for body camera technology, it also adds on to existing police officer training, now requiring officers to cover topics like use of force.

Additionally, the bill bans any officer from using a choke hold, and requires that an independent investigation takes place in any case of an officer-related death. Creators of the legislation hope that the bill will provide peace of mind to Illinois citizens without disrupting the day to day activities of police departments.

Funding for the new body cameras will come from an additional five dollar fee assessed to criminal and traffic offenses where a conviction or guilty plea takes place. The fee will not be applied to pedestrian, vehicle registration, or parking offenses. Legislative staff did not provide any estimate of the amount the additional fee could raise. Per the laws requirements, The Law Enforcement Training Standards board will create rules for body camera use and will establish a grant process for police departments across Illinois to apply for body camera funding.

While the new law does not require that every police department in Illinois use the cameras, the departments that do will follow strict state rules. Officers will be required to keep their cameras turned on the entire time they are on duty, but have the ability to turn them off if they are working with a confidential informant or if a witness or victim requests it. The camera’s recordings will only be accessed if they could provide potential evidence into an incident of police brutality, violence, or death.

The majority of the bill's provisions, including the five dollar fee for funding, will go into effect on January 1st 2016.

If you are facing criminal charges, or dealing with issues involving the police, a qualified Chicago criminal defense attorney is available to assist you. Contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney to get started. Call 312-629-0669 to speak with a member of our team today.


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