The Chicago Tribune reports about a bill that passed the House on Friday, which would allow undercover police officers to make audio recordings of suspected drug dealers. The ACLU of Illinois has been working on litigation and legislation that would permit citizens to be able to make audio recordings of police. Under current Illinois law, citizens who make audio recording of police may face felony eavesdropping charges and up to fifteen years in prison.
Still, opponents of the bill — including the ACLU, the Illinois State Bar Association and the state appellate defender's office — point out that current state law already provides an exception that allows officers to eavesdrop without a prior court order in an "emergency situation."
Allowing law enforcement officers to eavesdrop on drug suspects without a judge's approval gives too much power to police and prosecutors, they say.
The volume of drug cases in Illinois shows that police don't need expanded eavesdropping powers to investigate such crimes, said Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois.
"We're trading off privacy, and there doesn't appear to be any real gain in the meantime," he said.