Another Illinois Resident Charged for Recording Police

The New York Times reports on the Illinois eavesdropping law, which allows for a felony charge and up to 15 years of prison for people who record police officers on the job. In addition to artist Christopher Drew—whom I've written about before and who goes to trial in April—the article finds another person currently being charged under the law. Tiawanda Moore, 20, goes to trial next month. She too could face 15 years in prison, in her case for using her Blackberry to record her conversation with internal affairs officers at Chicago PD about an alleged sexual assault by a police officer. Moore recorded her interview after feeling her initial attempt to report the incident wasn't taken seriously.

On Aug. 18, Ms. Moore and her boyfriend went to Police Headquarters to file a complaint with Internal Affairs about the officer who had talked to her alone. Ms. Moore said the officer had fondled her and left his personal telephone number, which she handed over to the investigators.

Ms. Moore said the investigators tried to talk her out of filing a complaint, saying the officer had a good record and that they could “guarantee” that he would not bother her again.

“They keep giving her the run-around, basically trying to discourage her from making a report,” Mr. Johnson said. “Finally, she decides to record them on her cellphone to show how they’re not helping her.”

The investigators discovered that she was recording them and she was arrested and charged with two counts of eavesdropping, Mr. Johnson said. But he added that the law contains a crucial exception. If citizens have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime is about to be committed against them, they may obtain evidence by recording it.

“I contend that the Internal Affairs investigators were committing the crime of official misconduct in preventing her from filing a complaint,” Mr. Johnson said. “She’s young. She had no idea what she was getting into when she went in there to make a simple complaint. It’s just a shame when the people watching the cops aren’t up to it.”

Days later, accompanied by Mr. Johnson, Ms. Moore returned to Internal Affairs and was able to file a full complaint. There is a continuing investigation of Ms. Moore’s charges against the officer, a Police Department spokesman said.

So five months later, they're still investigating a possible sexual assault by a police officer. But they had no problem immediately arresting, charging, and jailing the woman who tried to report it. That would seem to send a pretty clear message about how seriously the city takes police misconduct.

There was another story in the news this week involving Chicago police. Former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for lying under oath. Burge was part of a Chicago police culture that tortured suspects in police custody for more than a decade. Burge and other officers who participated in the torture couldn't be prosecuted for federal criminal civil rights violations because the statute of limitations has expired. The federal judge who sentenced Burge specifically criticized local officials for allowing the torture to continue long past the time they should have known about it, including Mayor Richard Daly for ignoring the problem during his time as a state's attorney.

You'd think current Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez might take the time to learn something from history. There are still plenty of problems at Chicago PD that her office could be investigating. Instead, she wastes taxpayer resources prosecuting citizens for trying to protect themselves from cops, or for trying to hold cops accountable. Or, for that matter, trying to keep prosecutors accountable. Alvarez is also the one who has been harassing the journalism students at Northwestern University's Innocence Project.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    I'm shocked. SHOCKED... that police would use this statute as a way to intimidate people from filing complaints.

  • ||

    How about posting a list of the Illinois legislators who sponsored and voted for this law? They should be held accountable for the atrocities it has created.

  • ||

    I think this law goes back a long time; most of those who voted for it are probably out of office.

  • JeffR||

    This is Illinois, where we keep sending them back time and time again.. and expect different results nonetheless.. The very definition of insanity.

  • Russ 2000||

    Since when does being dead keep an Illinois politician out of office? It certainly doesn't stop anyone from voting.

  • Bryant||

    If you're not cop, you're little people

  • ||

    Don't worry, this will all be straightened out once Daley is out of office. He couldn't possibly be replaced by someone more corrupt.

  • America||

    We don't care.

  • ||

    Just curious: Could this lady charge the cop in federal court with civil rights offenses if he's not also black? (I'm assuming she is black because her name is Tiawanda, which is stereotyping, but not racist I assure you.)

    That could exert a little leverage against the corrupt police dept in Cook County.

    This problem is getting out of control. Could it be solved by people posting signs or billboards near the exits of police stations stating that city officials have no reasonable expectation of privacy while engaged in official duties? Those ARRA signmakers would probably love the contracts to put these up at every police precinct in America. OK, maybe just the non-Union ones, but it'd be a start.

  • Radley Balko||

    The race of the government official has nothing to do with whether or not you can file a federal civil rights suit.

  • Eric Holder||

    Oh sure, file a complaint.

    Whether it GOES anywhere or not...well....

  • AG Holder: File all you want.||

  • ||

    The race of the government official has nothing to do with whether or not you can file a federal civil rights suit.

    I know what you are saying Radley, and you are correct...in theory. However, what % of federal civil rights claims get to trial where the races of the plaintiff and defendant are the same, and what is the % when they are different? I really would like to know the answer to that.

    Oh, and where are Jesse and Al on this one?

  • d||

    The race of the government official has nothing to do with whether or not you can file a federal civil rights suit.

    As others have commented, technically, you're right. But we all know that this *is* a violation of her civil rights, so she might as well use a racial angle to push it to federal court where it belongs.

    Bonus: maybe Obama can step in and declare it a "teachable moment". Doubtful, but it would be nice (and the appropriate time to do so, unlike when he practically accused a white cop of being a Klansman for questioning his Harvard prof buddy in a home invasion scenario).

  • Rather||

    (I'm assuming she is black because her name is Tiawanda, which is stereotyping, but not racist I assure you.)

    Just once, I 'd like to read I am racist but it has nothing to with the merit of my argument

  • ||

    Shut the fuck up, rectal. Name one person named Tiawanda that isn't black. It's not racist, it's just a traditional African name that black people use.

    Would I be racist in assuming a person named Hu Jintao is asian?

    Is the Vlasic pelican coming today to pick up the next jar?

  • 10538||

    a traditional African name

    Sounds made-up to me. Like D'Shaun, or Plaxico.

  • Lucky||

    just throw 3 syllables together. You get a "traditional african" name, or a new drug.

  • ||

    Okay, guess now: which category does "Cydafex" fall into?

  • Rather||

    The world only goes round by misunderstanding.

    I never know if a misunderstanding means I am a shitty humorist or I that have a crappy audience

  • D-oh||

    Uh, Rectal, judging by previous comments of yours, it's the former.

    p.s. ...joke fail...

  • Rather||

    I need to find a quote on comprehensionstupidity for you.

  • D-oh||

    ...html fail...

  • dude||

    "Just once, I 'd like to read I am racist but it has nothing to with the merit of my argument"

    This is the type of comment that has completely sterilized the term racist.

  • ||

    I would assume someone named Tiawanda is from Tiawan, racist.

  • Binky||

    If citizens have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime is about to be committed against them, they may obtain evidence by recording it.

    Seems like this story establishes "reasonable suspicion".

  • MNG||

    Another isolated incident...

    "A New York police officer whose father was killed in the line of duty nearly 30 years ago fired an errant shot on Saturday during a drug raid in the Bronx and wounded a suspect’s 76-year-old father, the authorities said."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01.....1&hpw;

  • omg||

    Don't you mean "a metal slug emerged from the barrel of a gun that was being held by a heroic NYPD police officer hero, which happened to strike a 76-year-old drug dealing criminal mastermind"?

  • Rather||

    no he meant: a metal slug emerged from the barrel of a gun from a svu driven to the scene by a heroic NYPD police officer hero, which happened to strike a 76-year-old drug dealing criminal mastermind.

  • Lucky||

    did you just write "from a SVU"? who's your editor?

  • Rather||

    LOL
    He's not out of bed-exhausted I hear

  • D-oh||

    ... joke fail..

  • Peter||

    I think someone has a crush on you Rather.

  • ||

    Accidental discharge from NFL player=2 years
    Accidental discharge from cop=commendation

    Yeah, there's equal protection for ya.

  • Milicent Bystander||

    Wait, is that a condom joke?

  • ||

    Mark Donahue, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said his organization “absolutely supports” the eavesdropping act as is and was relieved that the challenge had failed. Mr. Donahue added that allowing the audio recording of police officers while performing their duty “can affect how an officer does his job on the street.

    In other words, the pigs might have to do their jobs. The pigs might actually have to treat people with respect. Apparently, the pigs have issues with these.

  • hmm||

    How's that for fucked up press. Cop shoots innocent person with a ND and half the article is about the cop's life and not the fucking guy he shot.

  • hmm||

    hmm, wrong place.

  • Joe R.||

    Can't have any evidence that might contradict their testimony.

  • Obama's New Amerika||

    These are all my people and I support their methods and procedures. My New Order law-enforcement officials must be free to act without threats of retaliation by victims.

  • So much for the myth....||

    that these liberal-progressive (D) officials like Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez are commited to protect an individual against abuses by the state.

  • She has a pretty web site.||

    That invited you to contribute to her election campaign. She promised a new focus on sex crimes.

  • ||

    Beacon of freedom, indeed.

  • hmm||

    Or

    Bacon of freedom, indeed.

  • Jess||

    Mmmm... bacon...

  • ||

    He couldn't possibly be replaced by someone more corrupt.

    Yeah- I'm completely certain Rahm Emanuel will consider police corruption a top priority when he begins Doing the People's Business.

  • ||

    Half his ads so far have been about hiring more cops.

  • hmm||

    Rahmbo is building an army!

  • Almanian||

    You know who else built a private army to support his election efforts...

  • Ted S.||

    Hugo Chavez?

  • Number 2||

    In New Jersey, the Attorney General has promulgated internal affairs "guidelines" that all local departments must follow. The "guidelines" list four permissible dispositions of an internal affairs complaint. Of those four, three are in the accused officer's favor. What message does that send to you?

  • Police Union Official||

    You get the message, don't you?

  • ||

    None, since that doesn't mean 3/4 of the dispositions will be resolved in the officer's favor. But, nice try with the innuendo.

  • omg||

    He's right, guys. I imagine 99/100 dispositions will actually be resolved in the officer's favor.

  • GroundTruth||

    Here it is, really simply, Mr. Policeman. *I* am paying your salary. When you come to work, you report to me. Whatever you do on my nickle, I can record.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Illinois: We make California look good by comparison.

  • ||

    This needs to be solved with civil disobedience. Get together 200 activists with smartphones or camcorders, go to CCPD headquarters. Go to the help desk, the records desk, the complaint desk, the crime reporting desk. Everybody begin recording at the same time. Refuse to leave. Alert the media.

  • Ronin||

    Police don't want to be recorded b/c they believe that in a contest of credibility, they'll win. If they're recorded, that contest is out the window.

  • wow||

    ok

  • JTHunter||

    This is typical of the draconian nature of many of Illinois' laws.
    They tell us that out in public where there is "no expectation of privacy", they can record us all they want. But, if we try to record them in our own homes/property, as this woman did, they say that "we don't have the 'right'".
    Typical double standard of a corrupt legal system - "We can record you but you can't record us!"

  • ||

    We should just hang all the cops and judges and start over.

  • ||

    I have to agree with what you said...I believe this would be the best outcome...

  • ||

    Better read this. US Court of Appeals decision last week.
    http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/pd.....4P-01A.pdf

    Excerpt: When Glik affirmed that he was recording audio, the officer placed him in handcuffs, arresting him for, inter alia, unlawful audio recording in violation of Massachusetts’s wiretap statute. ……………………
    1. Were Glik’s First Amendment Rights Violated?
    The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First
    Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative.

    In Tiawanda’s case she was recording what was said TO HER. So, it was not an interception of a communication between other parties, but simple documenting of the public behavior of the police who were communicating WITH HER.

  • Nike Dunk Shoes||

    thanks

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement