101714RaoulCHICAGO — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) and State Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Buffalo Grove) will co-chair a hearing tomorrow on body cameras —devices law enforcement officers can attach to their uniforms to record their encounters with the public — and how a new eavesdropping law Raoul and others are negotiating could affect their use. The joint meeting of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees will take place tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in Room C-600 of the Bilandic Building in Chicago.

“As we craft a commonsense, constitutional eavesdropping law, I believe it’s extremely important to have a public discussion about how body cameras and their footage can be used,” said Raoul, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It’s a matter of striking a balance between privacy concerns and the need to protect officers while also holding them accountable.”

In March, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s eavesdropping statute, one of the nation’s strictest. The law, which is no longer in force because of the court ruling, required anyone making an audio recording of a conversation — even in a public place — to obtain the permission of all parties whose voices could be heard on the recording. That meant a person trying to record a police officer making an arrest on a public sidewalk, for example, could be prosecuted for eavesdropping.

During the spring legislative session, Raoul began negotiating a rewrite of the eavesdropping statute in order to draw a prudent line between public and private interactions.

“With increased nationwide concern about law enforcement accountability, the legal status of the footage from wearable cameras became an important part of the conversation about eavesdropping,” Raoul said. “Many police departments in Illinois would like to deploy body cameras but need to know what the legal landscape looks like before they send officers out onto the streets with them. We’re going to have that conversation in an open manner, so we can get this right the first time.”