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Illinois Lawmakers To Consider Police Body Cameras, Questions Remain

Flickr: West Midlands Police
Photo cropped from original

Facts are often murky around shootings, whether or not they involve police officers, and eyewitness testimony can be unreliable. That's why activists say police should wear small cameras on their bodies that record interactions with the public. A group of Illinois lawmakers will hold a hearing on police body cameras on Friday.

State Representative Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat from Northbrook, says there are a lot of complex privacy questions about the cameras.

"Everything from: when is the camera on? Do the police have to give notice to everyone that they talk to that they're recording? Are there some conversations that are protected? If you have a victim of domestic violence that is interacting with a policeman, does that have to be recorded," Nekritz said.

Since the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state law on eavesdropping earlier this year, Illinois is something of a wild west on recording -- by police or anyone else.

Nekritz says police body cameras have been part of the negotiations around replacing that law, and that the events in Ferguson, Missouri have changed the dynamic of the conversation.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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