Illinois Police Departments Consider Body Cameras, But Legal Questions Remain
The recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri have renewed calls for police officers to wear body cameras. Those discussions are happening in some Illinois communities. This week, Springfield's mayor announced that he wants to spend $200,000 to buy wearable cameras for his city's police department. The devices, which clip onto an officer's uniform, would record interactions with the public. Supporters of these initiatives say if there were allegations of excessive force or other inappropriate behavior, the video could exonerate that member of the police force, or verify the allegation.
DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery, who supports the idea, says it's something his department is considering.
"It will not only protect the police, but also the community," Lowery said.
Lowery says they're exploring a variety of factors, including which technology to use, how much it would cost, and how to implement proper procedures.
The chief says legal questions are also part of the discussion.
"Illinois is a consensual overhear state, by court order. [For]many other states and the federal level, it's only one party consent. So it's a definite problem, especially when it would come into a private property," Lowery said.
And the legal picture became a little more muddied when the state's high court struck down Illinois' eavesdropping law. The statue barred recording conversations, unless the person doing the recording obtained the consent of all parties. Despite the court's ruling, Illinois lawmakers could adopt a revised measure when they return to Springfield this fall.