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Police refuse to be recorded

Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 14:01

Eavesdropping seems like a silly thing to be sent to jail for, but apparently it becomes a lot more serious when it involves a police officer.

A man and woman in Illinois will soon be sent to trial after both used recording devices to tape their separate non-violent encounters with the police.

The two face 15 years in jail if convicted.

Just like in Florida, Illinois' law makes it illegal to record a public or private conversation without the consent of all parties involved.

If convicted of recording a civilian conversation or encounter without the other party's approval the accused can face up to three years in jail, but that's still five times less than the jail time for recording a cop.

Tiawanda Moore — one of the two accused of recording an Illinios police officer — had legitimate and justifiable reasons for audio recording her encounter.

Last August, Moore had an exchange with a police officer where she claims he was sexually harassing her by fondling her and leaving his personal number. When she went to Internal Affairs to speak to two officers, she says they were extremely uncooperative.

The two IA officers tried to discourage her from filing the complaint, saying that the accused officer would never harass her again.

Realizing the IA investigators were not behaving ethically or professionally, Moore started to record the conversation on her BlackBerry, but when the two investigators noticed they arrested her on an eavesdropping charge.

As admirable it is to serve as a police officer, it's also very easy for an officer to abuse their position of power. This goes for a lot of positions in the work force.

Incident's like Moore's are exactly the kind of occurrences that could be prevented if this law were repealed.

Although there is one major stipulation: citizens may record an encounter if they have "reasonable suspicion" that a crime is about to be committed against them, and in Moore's case this defense may fly.

However, there are instances where an officer can abuse their power without necessarily breaking a law or violating any kind of rules placed upon them by the police department.

Our government cannot go unchecked. Officers of the law need to be monitored just like any other politician or public official.

Officers participating in unsavory behavior while in uniform need to face consequences if they violate a citizen's civil rights.

Many police cruisers have cameras mounted in the dashboard, but if an officer knows the placement of the camera he or she can easily step out of its view, leaving the violated citizen with no evidence.

Cameras and audio recording equipment don't lie, unless of course they're tampered with.

Recording interactions between citizens and the police should be standard procedure, not punishable by 15 years in jail.

When in public, individuals can take photos or video of anything they want; it could be for art work or just as a hobby. Why is it, then, that recording someone who serves in a sensitive position is illegal?

National security is not at risk because of a recording involving harassment. If the public can be monitored 24/7 in airports, malls and even in schools, why can't public officials that don't work with sensitive information?

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