Cop-Cams Coming to Chicago?

One of the most difficult things about handling a criminal case is determining what's true and what isn't. Even when people aren't being deliberately deceitful, it's not unusual for one person's account of events to vary considerably from another's. In an effort to eliminate a lot of this confusion, many police departments are having officers wear cop-cams, which are body cameras that act a lot like dashboard cams. Although cop-cams aren't prevalent in Illinois yet, there's a very good chance that they could debut in Chicago sooner rather than later.

In front of and behind the camera

It's easy to see why police departments are eager to invest in cop-cams. They provide a record of what transpires between police officers and civilians. If a defendant tries to make allegations against an officer later, the cop-cam can be used to back up the officer's story. Of course, these body cameras aren't just designed to protect officers. They can be used to protect the general public as well. These cameras can capture cases of police misconduct, which makes it more difficult for the police to sweep such issues under the rug.

Several things are conspiring to make it difficult for police departments around Illinois to adopt the technology. Most notably, Illinois has some of the strictest recording laws in the nation. Benedictine University campus police, who have been using cop-cams since 2008, get around two-party consent laws by disabling audio on their body cameras. Two-party consent laws require both parties to consent to being recorded. Without that consent, such recordings aren't admissible in a court of law. However, the technology hasn't been put to the test very much yet. If it is adopted by the Chicago Police Department, there's little doubt that evidence from cop-cams will be challenged in court.

Another issue is that cop-cams are expensive. Cash-strapped police departments simply can't afford to invest in the technology, and the Chicago PD is no exception. After cop-cams are put to the test in court and departments around the state have more money, however, this technology is sure to become a lot more prevalent.

If you face legal trouble in Illinois, you should contact a criminal defense attorney who will be able to take you through your options.

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