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A question for LEO's and users about helmet cameras.

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A question for LEO's and users about helmet cameras.

Old 07-27-10, 12:29 PM
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no motor?
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A question for LEO's and users about helmet cameras.

Rereading the $10 helmet cam thread , the day after being buzzed twice in one day (once right in front of the Police station) got me thinking using one of these cameras would be a good idea if they were credible when filing a complaint with the police after being buzzed. Any LEO's got an unofficial opinion on these? What's happened when people have gone to the police with helmet camera evidence? I realize there is a great deal of YMMV with these events/situations but think it's time to try something like this. I live in Illinois if that makes any difference, and know the Chief of Police in the town I spend the most time riding in well enough to ask him this question too.
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Old 07-27-10, 12:49 PM
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I think that as long as you have enough detail "on film" the video would be like any other evidence in court, and admissible or not based on rules that have nothing to do with what kind of video it is. On the other hand, getting the police to look at it and take your complaint seriously might be more difficult, depending on their mood and how much work they feel like doing.

Digital photographs are legally the same as film or glass plate photos. I don't know why video should be different.
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Old 07-27-10, 01:15 PM
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I work in forensic video. I don't think admissibility is the concern, but whether the information on it is actionable. You need a license plate as well as some evidence of passing distance. Getting both from an inexpensive standard definition camera is harder than you might think. Then there is the question of who was driving. It's unlikely the police will do more than talk to the car owner if you can't ID the driver.

Then there is the issue of preparing your camera every time you go out for a ride. You are preparing for a bad experience, which can take an emotional toll.

Talk to your local police to see if there is anything more you have to gain over just writing down a plate number. And try to think happy thoughts when you jump on the bike.
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Old 07-27-10, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
I work in forensic video. I don't think admissibility is the concern, but whether the information on it is actionable. You need a license plate as well as some evidence of passing distance. Getting both from an inexpensive standard definition camera is harder than you might think. Then there is the question of who was driving. It's unlikely the police will do more than talk to the car owner if you can't ID the driver.

Then there is the issue of preparing your camera every time you go out for a ride. You are preparing for a bad experience, which can take an emotional toll.

Talk to your local police to see if there is anything more you have to gain over just writing down a plate number. And try to think happy thoughts when you jump on the bike.
You've raised some interesting points, thanks. Personally I'd be happy if the police talking to the car owner was enough to get them to be more careful, even if the driver wasn't issued a ticket. I'm more worried about the driver hitting someone in the future than in getting revenge for what happened.

I rode a motorcycle for many years, and studied martial arts for about 3 years. I always felt a sense of hyperawareness/hyperpreparedness doing both, a feeling of being in the zone that's hard to describe. I don't feel that while bicycling, even if it does seem more dangerous than motorcycling. Preparing a camera wouldn't be much different than dressing to ride a motorcycle, but I can see what you're mentioning.

I plan on talking about this to the Police Chief next time I see him. He was very helpful and supportive when I talked with him about a self guided bike tour I put together a couple of years ago, and the current Mayor is a pretty avid bicyclist who has been to some of the bicycle events I've participated in.
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Old 07-27-10, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I think that as long as you have enough detail "on film" the video would be like any other evidence in court, and admissible or not based on rules that have nothing to do with what kind of video it is. On the other hand, getting the police to look at it and take your complaint seriously might be more difficult, depending on their mood and how much work they feel like doing.

Digital photographs are legally the same as film or glass plate photos. I don't know why video should be different.
I agree with this except for “getting the police to look at it and take your complaint seriously might be more difficult, depending on their mood and how much work they feel like doing”
Whatever!
Having substantial evidence to any investigation is the key. It turns the he said she said into an actual fact which makes the enforcement part of the complaint easy for the officer.
But what happens 9 times out of 10 the complainant walks into the police office and demands something to be done now! Not considering the fact the police could be tied up on something more pressing. Also the complainant usually doesn’t want to put the complaint in writing and refuses to understand the fact that this is part of the process.

I cannot see a department not working a formal complaint when a video can show the infraction clearly as it took place.
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Old 07-27-10, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
I work in forensic video. I don't think admissibility is the concern, but whether the information on it is actionable. You need a license plate as well as some evidence of passing distance. Getting both from an inexpensive standard definition camera is harder than you might think. Then there is the question of who was driving. It's unlikely the police will do more than talk to the car owner if you can't ID the driver.
One thing that could be worth considering is pulling the mic out of the camera and running it down on a boom; the camera documents the action, your live commentary supports a written statement of the plate number, driver description, etc.
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Old 07-27-10, 03:00 PM
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I've got a few of the cameras -- they're cheap, fun and tiny.

However, the video quality isn't so great, and it's really hard to pick out license plate numbers of cars that go by unless they get really close. And as already suggested, it's hard to tell just how close a car came just based on the video, and the police often don't take such reports very seriously even if the license plate is visible and it's clear they were really close.

The cameras also aren't very reliable. They are easy to bump and turn on and then the battery dies, or they'll turn off in the middle of a recording session, or they'll just lock up and you have to reset them. The "rolling shutter" problem is really bad as well. The timestamp wouldn't be such an issue if you could keep it accurate, but every time the battery dies you have to reset it -- so often you have a timestamp on your video that's very wrong.

If there was an actual collision and there was question about who was at fault, I'd be very glad to have the video, even with the limitations I mentioned above. But such incidents really should be rare unless you're doing something silly anyways, and so having the video itself suggests that you were expecting problems, which might work against you in some cases.

They're also addictive. First I got my Muvi camera, then the 808 camera and a few more 808s, and now a GoPro HD (which takes much better quality pictures and video!)

This camera -- https://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.32022 -- might be a better choice. It costs a tiny bit more (but shipping is free) but it appears to based on the exact same chipset as the ones in the thread you linked to. I suggest it because it has better mounting options, and if you're serious about this ideally you'll have a camera to the back and one to the front or on your helmet.

(I have one of these cameras too. Haven't played with it much yet, but it seems functionally identical to the 808 keychain cameras.)

EDIT:

Also consider that some states have problems with the wiretap laws being used against people who record their interactions with the police. The legal reasoning here is highly suspect, and all such cases should be thrown out of court, but people are still arrested.

Some states only require the consent of one party when things are recorded, and most states are like this, and this is the ideal situation. If your state requires that all consent, you might want to be more wary, but even so, the law should be on your side (as things you record on your commute are rarely private.)

And also, setting up the camera, charging it before every ride, clearing the card, etc. all is a pain in the butt. Eventually you'll just get tired of it if it never records anything interesting, and then you won't have it going when you need it.

It would be really nice if somebody made a camera like this but changed the firmware just a bit so that it would make 1 GB files until the card filled up, then erase the oldest file and keep recording as long as it had power -- that would be great for "just in case" recordings, for cars, for bikes, etc.

Last edited by dougmc; 07-27-10 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 07-27-10, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
Rereading the $10 helmet cam thread , the day after being buzzed twice in one day (once right in front of the Police station) got me thinking using one of these cameras would be a good idea if they were credible when filing a complaint with the police after being buzzed. Any LEO's got an unofficial opinion on these? What's happened when people have gone to the police with helmet camera evidence? I realize there is a great deal of YMMV with these events/situations but think it's time to try something like this. I live in Illinois if that makes any difference, and know the Chief of Police in the town I spend the most time riding in well enough to ask him this question too.
Being in Illinois does make a difference. Do not record any audio. Recording a conversation in Illinois without the consent of everyone involved is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
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Old 07-27-10, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by KD5NRH View Post
One thing that could be worth considering is pulling the mic out of the camera and running it down on a boom; the camera documents the action, your live commentary supports a written statement of the plate number, driver description, etc.
You really don't need to do that. If you just talk normally, it'll be recording your voice just fine if it's on your head -- they're pretty sensitive.

The only real benefit to the boom would be if it's really loud it would make you more understandable (if you're going really fast, wind noise might make it pretty loud), and it would make the fact that you're actually talking into a mike rather than talking to yourself more clear.

Personally, I'd keep it simple -- and it's hard to get simpler than velcroing it to the top of your helmet.
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Old 07-27-10, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
I work in forensic video. I don't think admissibility is the concern, but whether the information on it is actionable. You need a license plate as well as some evidence of passing distance. Getting both from an inexpensive standard definition camera is harder than you might think. Then there is the question of who was driving. It's unlikely the police will do more than talk to the car owner if you can't ID the driver.
Audio track: "JEEZUZ! WTF?!?!?! CQF 1321 License CQF 1321"

Then look around to record the "extenuating circumstances".

I'd say that pretty much sums it up. close enough to scare the crap out of me, no reason for it, and I saw the license plate.
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Old 07-27-10, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by KD5NRH View Post
One thing that could be worth considering is pulling the mic out of the camera and running it down on a boom; the camera documents the action, your live commentary supports a written statement of the plate number, driver description, etc.

No, just pull the mic out of the camera. While it is legal to photograph in a public place, recording audio can get you into trouble fast.

Here is a copy of a relevant section for california law. I expect your state has something similar.
PENAL CODE
SECTION 630-638
. . .
632. (a) Every person who, intentionally and without the consent of
all parties
to a confidential communication, by means of any
electronic
amplifying or recording device, eavesdrops upon or records the confidential communication, whether the communication is carried
on among the parties in the presence of one another or by means of a
telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, shall be
punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars
($2,500), or imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year,
or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment
. If the
person has previously been convicted of a violation of this section
or Section 631, 632.5, 632.6, 632.7, or 636, the person shall be
punished by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), by
imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or in the
state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
Commentary from California Media law Project:
California Wiretapping Law

California's wiretapping law is a "two-party consent" law. California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation. See Cal. Penal Code § 632. The statute applies to "confidential communications" -- i.e., conversations in which one of the parties has an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation. See Flanagan v. Flanagan, 41 P.3d 575, 576-77, 578-82 (Cal. 2002). A California appellate court has ruled that this statute applies to the use of hidden video cameras to record conversations as well. See California v. Gibbons, 215 Cal. App. 3d 1204 (Cal Ct. App. 1989).

If you are recording someone without their knowledge in a public or semi-public place like a street or restaurant, the person whom you're recording may or may not have "an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation," and the reasonableness of the expectation would depend on the particular factual circumstances. Therefore, you cannot necessarily assume that you are in the clear simply because you are in a public place.

If you are operating in California, you should always get the consent of all parties before recording any conversation that common sense tells you might be "private" or "confidential." In addition to subjecting you to criminal prosecution, violating the California wiretapping law can expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages by an injured party. See Cal. Penal Code § 637.2.

Consult The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press's Can We Tape?: California for more information on California wiretapping law.
I just saw that you are from Illinois; so, I have posted the relevant section from Citizen Media Law Project for Illinois:
Illinois Wiretapping Law

Illinois's wiretapping law is a "two-party consent" law. Illinois makes it a crime to use an "eavesdropping device" to overhear or record a phone call or conversation without the consent of all parties to the conversation. The law defines an "eavesdropping device" as "any device capable of being used to hear or record oral conversation or intercept, retain, or transcribe electronic communication whether such conversation or electronic communication is conducted in person, by telephone, or by any other means." 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/14-1, -2. If you are operating in Illinois, you should always get the consent of all parties before recording an in-person conversation or telephone call. In addition to subjecting you to criminal prosecution, violating the Illinois wiretapping statute can expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages by an injured party.

While you generally are permitted to photograph or record video of people without permission in most public places, it is illegal in Illinois to "videotape, photograph, or film" people without their consent in "a restroom, tanning bed, or tanning salon, locker room, changing room or hotel bedroom." 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/26-4(a) (scroll down).

Consult The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press's Can We Tape?: Illinois for more information on Illinois wiretapping lawyer.

Last edited by Robert C; 07-27-10 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 07-27-10, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Robert C View Post
No, just pull the mic out of the camera. While it is legal to photograph in a public place, recording audio can get you into trouble fast.
It seems like you missed what he was saying. He was suggesting pulling the mic down to hear HIMSELF talk and say the license number/cursing/whatever else he says as he gets buzzed. No matter where the mic is, I doubt any court would find the sound of the car wooshing by comparable to eavesdropping or wiretapping without consent.

Last edited by Unreasonable; 07-27-10 at 05:26 PM. Reason: Sounding less dick-ish.
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Old 07-27-10, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Unreasonable View Post
It seems like you missed what he was saying. He was suggesting pulling the mic down to hear HIMSELF talk and say the license number/cursing/whatever else he says as he gets buzzed.
No, I think he understood what was said properly, and just thinks any sort of microphone is a bad idea.
No matter where the mic is, I doubt any court would find the sound of the car wooshing by comparable to eavesdropping or wiretapping without consent.
No, his concern isn't with wooshing cars -- it's with recorded conversations.

In case you live in a box, there's been a number of cases in the news lately where people have recorded their interactions with police and been arrested for it under the wiretapping laws that he identified. The laws vary from state to state, but in general one must have the expectation of privacy for a recorded conversation to be considered wiretapping, and if you're just out in the street, you really shouldn't have any expectation of privacy -- especially if you're a cop doing your job, but none of this is specific to cops. (Though cops do generally have cameras in their car, recording all the time, even in these states where this has been an issue.)

However, even so, the police have still arrested people, gotten warrants, taken all their computer equipment, etc. and such in several cases. There's still a few high profile cases waiting to go to court, and the ACLU has gotten involved in at least one of them, and at one person in Congress recently introduced a bill making it always legal to record one's interactions with the police. (Again, the recent issues in the news have dealt with the police, but there's no reason why this has to be restricted to police.)

And really, if recording the audio is illegal, then recording the video should be illegal too, especially if it's clear enough for one to read lips or somebody made some ... communicative gestures that were recorded. Flipping the bird is communication, and if that's recorded without consent ...

The whole thing is stupid. Personally, I'm glad I live in a state with more reasonable wiretapping laws, but Illinois IS one of the states with problems, so perhaps removing the microphone might indeed be wise.

If you need some background citations ...

https://www.boston.com/news/local/mas...ne_recordings/
https://www.dvafoto.com/2010/06/three...ivity-illegal/
https://gizmodo.com/5553765/are-cameras-the-new-guns
https://abcnews.go.com/US/TheLaw/vide...ry?id=11179076
https://carlosmiller.com/2010/07/13/o...a-few-arrests/
https://www.nycphotorights.com/2010/0...o-tape-police/

Last edited by dougmc; 07-27-10 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 07-27-10, 11:23 PM
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I might be wrong. I usually am, but if you are on a public road then you can record video and audio and it doesn't matter if you have any consent from anyone. It is public domain. Your not setting in a resturant or in a business, you are on the road. Just don't hide anything if you are worried about it..I ride my bike and have my skate board helmet on and I have a camera pointing frontward and one backward. I record all the time. If anyone wants to see my setup I'll put a couple of picture in this forum. I use two VholdR video cameras. Here is one of the videos I did just playing around with them.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSNCEy7jXlM I have some more, just search for "keithava" with the quotes and you'll see five that I put on YouTube..Cheers.
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Old 07-28-10, 12:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Keithmj View Post
I might be wrong. I usually am, but if you are on a public road then you can record video and audio and it doesn't matter if you have any consent from anyone. It is public domain.
Read the links I gave, they cover the general problem.

What matters is your state's laws -- most require consent of one party to record conversations, but a few require consent of all parties. Florida appears to be one of the bad ones, where the consent of all parties is required. However, Florida law does make an exception for in-person communications when the parties do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversation, which is what would permit you to do it. But then again, so do the other states where people have been arrested that I mentioned, and yet people have still been arrested, so be careful, especially if you're dealing with police.

And just because you're in the street, that doesn't make it OK. If you were recording a conversation with a high gain microphone that was a ways away, that would probably be a different story.

I'm not saying that recording your ride is wrong or illegal -- but others HAVE been arrested for it, and your state does seem to have the "bad" laws that people have been arrested under. (I'm not aware of any convictions, but even so, having to defend yourself is expensive and you can still lose even if you're right.)

And "public domain" means something else entirely.
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Old 07-28-10, 02:07 AM
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I don't know of any state where it's illegal to record yourself, and audio notes recorded during an event are excellent supporting evidence in court, since you wouldn't have had the opportunity to add any "creative memories" to those notes after the fact.
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Old 07-28-10, 06:47 AM
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I've been recording my rides for about 2 years now. I've stopped contacting law enforcement except in the most serious cases such as actual accidents or threats of violence.

In at least half my interactions with police, they question why I had a camera rolling at the time. They assume that I was trying to get someone to do something to report. Even if the evidence is substantial and clear, the police rarely do anything, sometimes they won't even call the driver.

I was hit by a passing car last year and the evidence was clear that I was riding legally. The driver hit me then got out and yelled at me to get out of the road. I was cited not riding far enough to the right. The driver, only after my strong urging, was cited for unsafe passing and reckless driving for swerving directly at me. The city attorney dismissed the reckless driving. He said he couldn't prove it. I don't think he ever looked at the video.

I still ride with the cameras in case I do get hit again and I need evidence for a civil suit or to protect myself in case the police come after me for another bogus citation.

As far as the wiretapping issue is concerned the only state that I know of that doesn't have an exception for conversations that are not private is Illinois. Massachusetts does not allow secret recordings but if you have a camera on your head that doesn't seem too secret.
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Old 07-28-10, 07:29 AM
  #18  
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Seems to me a sign on your helmet stating "recording in progress" would be notification enough for anyone near you. That is essentially all they do in stores for their security cams.

Wearing a shirt that says the same thing might actually encourage motorists to avoid you... although most close calls I have had have been from what appear to be clueless motorists... I can really only recall a couple of truly aggressive motorists in my many decades of regular cycling. (and they do stick in your mind well)
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Old 07-28-10, 08:20 AM
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Here is a good PDF article.. https://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf might not be legal everywhere but I'll face that bridge if I ever get there..Cheers
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Old 07-28-10, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
No, his concern isn't with wooshing cars -- it's with recorded conversations.
But his wanting to have a camera recording is to show people driving dangerously near him, and like the person a few posts above this, to show who was at fault during an accident. I'm sure if someone talked to him and he knew the laws of the state he would inform them, but his prompting to have a camera is by the dangerous drivers. That's what I got out of it when he mentioned using it for complaints after getting buzzed.
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Old 07-28-10, 11:46 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Robert C View Post
...I just saw that you are from Illinois...
Video or audio recording an Illinois LEO without permission is a class one felony, minimum jail time and felony record. All stores have big warnings in Illinois, I assume that's considered consent. Recording regular citizens without permission is a class three felony.

Originally Posted by Keithmj View Post
Here is a good PDF article.. https://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf might not be legal everywhere but I'll face that bridge if I ever get there..Cheers
This document is pretty old, there's lots of new laws restricting your rights in this area since 9/11. I wouldn't try to push the law in Illinois, it can get ugly:

https://www.copwatch.org/actionalert.html

Last edited by Mr IGH; 07-28-10 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 07-28-10, 01:37 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Keithmj View Post
Here is a good PDF article.. https://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf might not be legal everywhere but I'll face that bridge if I ever get there..Cheers
Of course, that document doesn't even cover wiretapping laws or audio or video recordings at all.

I'm not saying that people should stop recording things. But do keep in mind that the police do occasionally freak out about it (especially when they're the ones being recorded), and in a few states (Illinois included) the law is written in a way that makes it a judgment call about if you're breaking the law or not. And police HAVE arrested people for this -- it's not theoretical or anything like that.

And even if you are arrested and beat the charges -- you were still arrested, your stuff still taken and you probably have legal fees and time wasted. Do you want to be the person who gets the law thrown out? If so, good for you, but do be aware it's not cheap or easy.
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Old 07-28-10, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
Video or audio recording an Illinois LEO without permission is a class one felony, minimum jail time and felony record. All stores have big warnings in Illinois, I assume that's considered consent. Recording regular citizens without permission is a class three felony.



This document is pretty old, there's lots of new laws restricting your rights in this area since 9/11. I wouldn't try to push the law in Illinois, it can get ugly:

https://www.copwatch.org/actionalert.html
And here we get to the part where the loonies can waggle their fingers and say "we told you so, we told you those laws were a bad idea and would guar-an-teed be abused."
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Old 09-01-10, 04:05 PM
  #24  
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Ran across this article on taping while looking for something else and thought I'd pass it on.
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Old 09-01-10, 04:41 PM
  #25  
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Does it rain there?
Another thing to think about.


It gets cold here and batteries suck.
I Vholdr thing $99.

you can see videos in my sig v
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