Illinois House approves changes to eavesdropping law

May 23, 2012


Current Illinois law makes recording police officers in public a crime. The proposed changes approved 71-45 by the Illinois House would decriminalize such recordings. The bill's sponsors say they've addressed concerns raised by law enforcement.

At least three courts have found the existing law unconstitutional. Beyond that, backers of the change say most people wouldn't know they were committing a crime.  Republican Representative Chapin Rose of Mahomet voted for the proposal.

"Do you think it's a felony offense to take out your cell phone, click the video button and it happens to audio record somebody in the performance of their duties?," she asked. "Ask a hundred people if they think that's a felony offense; I bet you not one of them would agree."

Police successfully blocked an earlier attempt to relax the law. They say the measure would put officers at risk and make it harder to investigate crimes.

To address those concerns, the proposal was changed to say it would be a crime if someone tampered with a recording in order to file a complaint against police. The measure now heads to the Senate.