The Supreme Court rejected an appeal to ban surveillance of police officers in Illinois, Monday (Nov. 2). The Cook County’s state’s attorney, sought to criminalize videotaping officers while on the job, but justices decided to uphold the lower court ruling which determined that halting spying efforts was a violation of First Amendment rights.
The law worked to tack on a maximum prison sentence of 15 years for illegally recording cops.
In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Cook County State Attorney Anita Alverez to stop its staff from facing legal ramifications for recording on-duty officers in public places. Upon learning of the ruling, Harvey Grossman, legal director of the Illinois ACLU, noted that the organization was “pleased” with the ruling. “The ACLU of Illinois continues to believe that in order to make the rights of free expression and petition effective, individuals and organizations must be able to freely gather and record information about the conduct of government and their agents – especially the police,” he said. “The advent and widespread accessibility of new technologies make the recording and dissemination of pictures and sound inexpensive, efficient and easy to accomplish.”
Filming officers while on duty can potentially capture instances of police brutality, or excessive force, and comes just ahead of the NATO summit next week. Thanks to the ruling, protesters expected to attend the summit will not face charges for videotaping police officers.
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