An bill that would have amended Illinois’ controversial Eavesdropping Act to allow on duty police officers to be recorded in public spaces was voted down in the state House Wednesday.
Although a Cook County judge ruled the law unconstitutional earlier this month, the law remains on the books, leaning on a similar statewide requirement that all parties consent before conversations can legally be recorded.
Introduced by Rep. Elaine Nekritz, House Bill 3944 would have legalized recording police officers on duty in public spaces, and would permit recipients of telephone solicitations to record their end of the conversation if the caller verbally reserves the same right.
The bill was shut down with 59 nays votes to 45 yeas, with one abstention.
The American Civil Liberties Union has repeatedly challenged the law, and even some law enforcement officials have expressed concern about its constitutionality.
Chicago’s new police superintendent Garry McCarthy called the law a “foreign concept,” and said officers can benefit from having events on tape if false misconduct charges are filed after an altercation.
But opponents of the exemption, like Rep. Dennis Reboletti, who voted against HB 3944, argue that the law should protect civil servants before civilians.
“Why should [the police] have to go get a court order to record these people when these people can record them?” Reboletti told the State Journal-Register.
The Eavesdropping Act has had several high-profile challenges this year, including lawsuits from Tiawanda Moore, who allegedly recorded police trying to persuade her to drop a sexual harassment charge against another officer, and Christopher Drew, an artist who was threatened with prison time for recording his own arrest on civil disobedience charges.
In both cases, judges ruled against the state’s eavesdropping policy.