Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Citizens Should Be Able to Record Police Interactions

In most cases, when a citizen is interacting with a police officer, the citizen will usually be on the wrong end of a ticket or arrest.  Many people fear run-ins with the law even if they are only stopped for a minor offense.  Sometimes during police interactions people can be intimidated into complying with police or be viewed as suspicious because of nervous tendencies.  Police may sometimes over step their authority and bend the laws in their favor in order to gain evidence or other desired information.  With today's technology and the abundance of smart phones, perhaps hitting record on the device could give the citizen a little peace of mind.  However, in the great state of Illinois, if you audio record police interactions without their knowledge and consent, you are looking at felony charges of eavesdropping.

In Illinois, it is illegal to make an audio recording of police officers without their consent.  It is perfectly legal to video tape a confrontation, however, the audio must not be recorded.  This law just doesn't make sense.  According to attorney Joshua Kutnick of Chicago "The law is meant to prevent people from secretly recording private conversations, but it is not designed to protect police conduct that is open and in public."  This has been a big issue as of late.  Attorney Joshua Kutnick is representing a sixty-one year old man who was trying to sell his artwork on the street without a permit.  Chris Drew, the artist, was confronted by police in Chicago when he hit record on his phone which was concealed in his pocket.  After the police discovered he was "eavesdropping" on the conversation they charged him for the felony which can carry up to fifteen years in prison. 

Michael Allen, an Illinois citizen, is another man charged with recording a police interaction.  However, in this case, the state wants to lock him up for seventy-five years.  SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS FOR A NON VIOLENT CRIME?  Come on Illinois what are you really trying to prove.  Its funny to me how they can go after a normal, every day citizen for recording a minor traffic offense.  I mean come on. This is the state that churns out corrupt official after corrupt official and takes it easy on them when they mess up, but they will try to completely ruin a mans life who did really nothing wrong.  That deserves a....

Another man named Louis Frobe of Lake County Illinois was arrested and charged with felony eavesdropping and faces fifteen years in prison.  Frobe argues that he was on a public road and recorded a public official therefore there should not be expectation of privacy.  Below is a video of Louis' story.

When in the public, no one has the expectation of privacy.  Therefore, how can this law be constitutional.  That is what many are fighting to change.  It isalso a backwards law because the police video and audio tape interactions.  Every car is equipped with dash cams and they record every time the police make a stop.  If the police can have video and audio as a safety net why cant the general public?  The law should not be used to shield public officials and needs to be changed.


Haggerty, Ryan, and Jason Melsner. "Constitutionality of Illinois Eavesdropping Law Challenged in Court." Chicago Tribune. 14 Feb. 2012. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <>.

Masnick, Mike. "Guy Arrested, Threatened With 15 Years For Recording Traffic Stop In Illinois." Techdirt. 30 Sept. 2011. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <>.


  1. You stole my next blog topic! I might still write about this but just in case I don't I thought you might find this article interesting.

    Illinois judge: law barring recording police is unconstitutional

  2. I am very happy I read this article. Another example of Illinois corruption that makes me slap my forehead. The police can record audio and video during arrests but civilians cannot? This makes absolutely no sense. Police are supposed to be professionals. Their duty is to serve and protect and I think all too often they get caught in the arrest and lock away tunnel vision. They need to careful monitor their words and their conduct. If they are concerned about the audio of a citizen ruining a case then they probably failed to do their job properly.