09/14/2011

ACLU: Stop prosecuting citizens recording police

The ACLU is defending their 'program of monitoring police conduct and practices'

By PoliceOne Staff

CHICAGO — The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois asked
an appellate court to stop prosecuting its employees who record interactions with police, according to a Tuesday press release.

Under the state's eavesdropping laws, all parties must consent to audio recordings — photographs or videotaping without sound don't require agreement — or face a class 1 felony and 15-year prison term. The ACLU seeks a court declaration and injunction prohibiting the application of the statues in this manner.

The release states:

"The ACLU of Illinois is defending its program monitoring police conduct and practices on the streets of Chicago.

'In order to make the rights of free expression and petition effective, individuals and organizations must be able to freely gather and record information about the conduct of government and its agents — especially the police,' said Harvey Grossman, Legal Director of the ACLU of Illinois. 'Organizations and individuals should not be threatened with prosecution and jail time simply for monitoring the activities of police in public, having conversations in a public place at normal volume of conversation.'

'The State's Attorney's position — that the ACLU can monitor police activity, take photographs, video, and even make notes of police conversations in public but not audio record those conversations — is not consistent with rights of free speech. This is particularly true with the evolution of new technologies that make the recording and dissemination of pictures and sound inexpensive, efficient and easily accessible to each of us,' Grossman added.

The U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit recently ruled that prosecutions for openly recording police — the same activity in which the ACLU seeks to engage — violates the First Amendment."

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