Law Banning Police Ticket Quotas Goes Into Effect Jan. 1

Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 3411 back on June 16, but the law banning police ticket quotas won’t go into effect until Thursday, when the calendar turns to 2015. There has been a lot of debate over what the law really bans, so today we delve into SB 3411.

Two Big Changes

SB 3411 offers two large tweaks to the ticket quota system. The law:

  • Provides that a county or municipality may not require a law enforcement officer to issue a specific number of citations or warnings within a designated period of time, and;
  • Provides that a county or municipality may not, for purposes of evaluating a law enforcement officer’s job performance, compare the number of citations or warnings issued by the law enforcement officer to the number of citations or warnings issued by any other law enforcement officer who has similar job duties.

Essentially, police leaders can’t tell their officers to write 200 speeding tickets each month or give Bill a promotion over Bob just because Bill writes more tickets. State Representative Jay Hoffman, of Swansea, said the banning of quotas will help restore the public’s trust in police.

“Arbitrary quotas on the number of tickets that have to be issued by police officers undermines the public trust in the police departments’ priorities,” Hoffman said. “By eliminating these quotas, we can restore that trust and ensure that police officers are free to do their job protecting the public.”

Illinois Ticket Quota

That said, not all police quotas have been banned. In some instances, police departments must meet certain targets in order to be eligible for federal and state grant money. Officials say targeted grants, like funding for extra DUI patrols during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, will be exempt from the ban. In most cases, the instances in which you may be subjected to a quota are times when you were going to get a citation or arrested regardless of whether or not a quota was in place.

Also, although ticket quotas have been banned, the law says nothing about required daily or monthly contacts. These are situations where an officer interacts with a citizen, but does not necessarily need to involve a crime.

“It could be serving a warrant, serving orders of protection, doing a community program,” said Sangamon County Sheriff Wes Barr.

Police believe these regular interactions help foster trust in officers and ensure their presence is made public in the community.

If you believe you’ve been unjustly given a traffic ticket or related violation, contact an Illinois criminal defense attorney right away.

Related source: The State Journal-Register, The Metro Independent

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The 10 Illinois Cities With The Most Violent Crime

Chicago has made national headlines over the past few years as gun violence continues to plague the city, but the 2013 FBI crime statistics uncovered a few more Illinois cities rocked by violent crime. Here are the Top 10 Illinois cities with the most violent crime (Chicago excluded).

1. Rockford
2. Springfield
3. Peoria
4. Champaign
5. Aurora
6. Joliet
7. Harvey
8. Waukegan
9. Bloomington
10. Decatur

Rockford Illinois

Looking Deeper

For their analysis, researchers categorized violent crime as a range of acts, including murders, rapes, robberies and property crimes, like burglaries and auto thefts. According to the statistics, Rockford, Illinois, comes in at number one for violent crime, with 2,065 reports of violent crime per 100,000 residents. Rockford also had the most reported murders with 19, again outside of Chicago.

Other facts about the FBI Crime statistics include:

  • Harvey, which only has a population of 25,500, had a whopping 10 murders in 2013.
  • Aurora has the most violent crime of any Chicago suburb, with 601 instances per 100,000 residents.
  • Cairo, a city of only 2,608 residents, had 22 reported cases of arson in 2013.
  • Albers, with a population of 1,187, is the largest city in Illinois with no reports of any type of violent crime in 2013.
  • Chicago excluded, there were 202 reported murders in Illinois in 2013.

Although the FBI stated that crime in Chicago is underreported, city data reveals that there were about 204,000 violent crimes in The Windy City in 2013. Additionally, there were 414 murders, 11,000 robberies and 7,500 instances of violent crime per 100,000 residents.

The FBI said the data should be used to determine how local and state officials can best prevent crime in areas that are most affected by violence.

Related source: CBS Local

Explaining the New Eavesdropping Law in Illinois

Illinois recently passed a bill called SB 1342, but it is more commonly being referred to as the new Eavesdropping Law.

There has been a lot of speculation and misinformation about this bill, with some saying it’s now illegal to film the police while others are claiming it gives the police too much power to eavesdrop on citizens. Today, we break down some key points of the Eavesdropping Law so everyone can get a better understanding of the actual regulations.

Eavesdropping Law

1. You Can Still Record The Police

Simply put, you can still record the police, you just aren’t allowed to eavesdrop on them. The law states that citizens may record an interaction so long as the involved parties don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, if you see a police officer arresting a resisting suspect on the sidewalk, you are more than welcome to record the ordeal. If you are pulled over for speeding, you can certainly record the interaction with the cop. On the other hand, you’re not allowed to wiretap a phone or a squad car and collect information between parties who have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like in their home or office. Most times, police conduct their duties in the public sphere, so you are well within your right to record them.

2. Eavesdropping Penalties Lowered

Prior to this law, illegally recording a law enforcement officer or judicial official was met with a Class 1 felony. Under the new legislation, it’s still a felony to illegally record officers and judges, but the penalty has been reduced to a Class 3 felony.

3. Police Have More Leeway To Eavesdrop

This point may sound disconcerting, but the ability to eavesdrop on a conversation where a person could reasonable expect privacy only applies if the person in question is suspected of committing one of the following offenses: first degree murder, solicitation of murder for hire, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated arson, kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, child abduction, trafficking in persons, involuntary servitude, involuntary sexual servitude of a minor, or gunrunning.

Prior to SB 1342, police needed to obtain a warrant “within 48 hours of the commencement of such use.” If they didn’t get the warrant within two days they had to stop attempting to eavesdrop without consent. Now, they can continue without a warrant after 48 hours.

4. Reasonable, Reasonable, Reasonable

As we mentioned in the first point, the whole bill hinges on the term “reasonable” expectation of privacy. There are limitless situations where one party may wish to record an interaction, so there’s no possible way to have a cut and dry law where everything either is or isn’t legal. For example, you may have a reasonable expectation of privacy in your home, but if the police come busting in, you are certainly welcome to record them without asking for their permission.

So if you see something and want to record it, ask yourself this question. “Would the involved parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy?” This is very different from the question, “If I were in their shoes, would I want to be recorded?” The cop may not want his use of excessive force recorded or the shoplifter may not like that his pants fell down to his ankles while running away because he forgot a belt, but if it happens in the public domain, you are well within your rights to record the interaction.

If you have any questions about the bill, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Summer Jobs Linked To Drop in Violent Crime

Summer job ChicagoA study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago Crime Lab found that summer jobs can drastically reduce a teen’s likelihood of being arrested for a violent crime.

The study analyzed behavioral pattens in three groups of teens in Chicago over the course of 16 months. Over 1,600 students were assigned to one of three summer groups: The Chicago One Summer Plus program (work), The Chicago One Summer Plus program plus social-emotional support (work+support), and the control group, who were not given a spot in the program. They were free to do as they pleased during the summer, but for the sake of this post, we’ll group them as the “no work” or control faction. Researchers wanted to see if the program truly did have an impact on youth violent crime rates, as study author Sarah Heller said she heard arguments from both sides about the program’s effectiveness.

“There are opposing pieces of conventional wisdom on whether a program like this would work,” said Heller. “On one hand is the popular idea that ‘nothing stops a bullet like a job.’ On the other is a body of research on employment programs suggesting that only intensive and lengthy interventions can improve outcomes among disadvantaged youth—that one summer could never be enough.”

Those in the work group worked 25 hours a week during the summer. Teens in the work+support group were paid for 25 hours of work per week, but they worked for 15 hours and received 10 hours of social-emotional support each week. Social-emotional support was designed to help students understand and manage thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

Study Results

At the conclusion of the 16-month period, researchers noted that the work and work+support groups were equally effective in reducing violent crime arrests by about 43 percent.

“The city of Chicago was courageous enough to put its One Summer Plus program to the test, and turns out that just eight weeks of summer programming decreases violent crime arrests by a huge amount for over a year after the job ends,” said Heller. “This is an incredibly encouraging finding.”

Roseanna Ander, executive director of the Chicago Crime Lab, said the results are especially worthwhile considering the demographics of the teens in the program. The majority were about 16 years old, almost all were African American, the typical student had about a C average in school, and many lived in areas of high unemployment and very high violent crime rates. She said it’s never too late to help teens in challenging situations.

“The One Summer Plus evaluation builds on other encouraging recent study findings, including those carried out by the Crime Lab, that suggest it’s not too late to help young people, even those who face serious challenges and come from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Related source: News.UChicago.edu

Chicago Police To Wear Body Cameras in Pilot Program

Police Body CamerasIf you’re stopped by a Chicago police officer in the coming months, you’ll want to smile, because you might be on camera.

According to Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, some Chicago police officers will begin wearing body cameras within the next 60 days as part of a pilot program.

McCarthy didn’t go into too much detail about the program, but he believes they’ll help provide an impartial view into what transpired during a citizen encounter. He noted that many officers volunteered to be part of the program.

“We have a number of officers who have volunteered because that’s how we’re going to handle it initially,” McCarthy said. “I endorse the program. I would say within 60 days we’ll be up and running.”

Proponents of the body cameras believe they’ll work two-fold to prevent issues. First, they’ll keep officers on their best behavior as they know their actions are being recorded, likely reducing the number of police brutality suits, and secondly they’ll preventing citizens from making baseless accusations against police officers. The U.S. Justice Department cautioned that there is not a lot of evidence to suggest body cameras will cut down on police-citizen problems, but the cameras certainly worked for officers in Rialto, California.

McCarthy didn’t elaborate, but it’s possible the move to begin the pilot program was a response to the recent Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you’re aware of the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9. The decision not to indict the white officer in the shooting death of a black teen led to demonstrations across the nation, including in Chicago. Had Wilson been wearing one of the cameras, we’d have a much clearly idea of what truly transpired on that early August day.

Brett Appelman comments

Just like I said last month when lawmakers were discussing exactly how a body camera program would be used, I fully support the idea. I noted the question was more of “when” officers would get than “if” they would get them, and it appears we’ll begin seeing them in the next 60 days.

I’ve dealt with cases where both my client and the officer on the stand have bent the truth or shaped the narrative to support their case. With video evidence, we’ll have an impartial third party at the scene to tell us exactly what happened. I look forward to seeing these recordings being presented as evidence in future trials.

Related source: Chicago Tribune