Recording a Police Officer Shouldn't Be a Crime

chicago policeCops in Chicago are cracking down on citizens that have the gall to record them while they’re on duty. Apparently, any attempt to record your interaction with the popo in Chi-Town is an arrestable offense. It’s considered to be eavesdropping, and Illinois is the only state in the union that expressly forbids citizens from filming or recording on-duty cops.

Tiwanda Moore was sexually assaulted by a police officer during a domestic disturbance call. She went down to headquarters to file a complaint, and was strongly discouraged from doing so. She pulled out her cell phone to record the conversation, and was arrested.

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Michael Allison challenged a zoning law so that he could fix up old cars on his property. When he was brought to court for violating the zoning law, he asked for a court reporter and was told no. He whipped out his digital recorder, and was arrested for violating the judge’s right to privacy. On the recorder, police found more recordings that Allison had made of his interactions with officers over this zoning issue. He has no prior criminal record, and if convicted, faces up to 75 years in prison.

This sounds more like Soviet Russia than the United States of America. Those who work in law enforcement are public figures, and they’re supposed to protect us, not oppress us. Recording something is the single best way to prove something happened, and police on the up-and-up shouldn't have a problem with it. If they are doing their jobs like they’re supposed to, no one will catch anything untoward on camera.

Police have a unique (and powerful) role in society. They carry guns and employ them when they feel it’s necessary. They arrest people and lock them up. They are the hall monitors of the real world, and not all of them have hearts of gold. Some of them might even grope a woman during a domestic disturbance call. If police can’t be recorded, what’s to rein in the bad ones from doing bad things and denying it later? 

Law enforcement is there to protect the rights of the citizens. They arrest thieves, murderers, rapists, and all sorts of shady characters that endanger my rights to life, liberty, and property ownership. The rights of all Americans to a fair and just legal system trump any expectation of privacy of an on-duty police officer.

 

Image via MSVG/Flickr

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