Chicago Police Using New Criminal Lineup Tactics

A new state law aimed at eliminating potential bias during criminal lineup proceedings is changing how witnesses identify suspects.

Under the old methods, just like in Law and Order or CSI, a group of potential suspects were lined up behind a one-way viewing station. The witness or victim would look at the lineup and tell a detective if anyone in the lineup is the suspect in question. It makes for great TV, but it has some real world drawbacks. Detectives can intentionally or inadvertently clue a witness to a potential suspect, and seeing the actual perpetrator in person can have emotional side effects. The new law hopes to eliminate all bias and potential witness pitfalls.

The new law requires that:

  • All lineups are videotaped.
  • Witnesses must be videotaped when viewing videotape or photo arrays of the lineup.
  • A detective with no ties to the investigation must carry out the videotaping or lineup display.

“Having an independent administrator pretty much, unless done terribly incompetently, just resolves a whole bunch of questions,” said Roy Malpass, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Texas-El Paso and expert on witness identifications. “I think it’s worthwhile to have those questions off the table.” Without those safeguards, “you can’t answer the question of whether the officer did any pointing or made any gestures. They are questions that a good defense attorney is bound to ask.”

Police lineups

Like many other changes, the law went into effect on January 1. The hope is that any bias would be caught on camera, but the law does stipulate that the witness can refuse to be recorded while viewing the photo lineup.

“There’s no substitute for knowing what’s going on than seeing it,” said Karen Daniel, director of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions. “We have the technology to do it. Everybody videotapes everything. Why would we not videotape these important procedures?”

While suspect identification can be a useful tool, it’s not a preferred method. Ideally authorities would be able to link the suspect to a scene using physical or DNA evidence, but witnesses can help get the ball rolling. That said, of the 325 convictions overturned by the Innocence Project, nearly three quarters involved a false identification.

Related source: Chicago Tribune

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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

Examining Crime on Illinois College Campuses

Illinois Campus CrimeA report on crime on college campuses found that more sexual offenses occur at the University of Illinois than any other state school, but another school is home to more robberies and aggravated assaults.

Considering the University of Illinois has nearly twice as many enrolled students than any other school on the list, it’s not too surprising it tops the list, but it’s the University of Illinois at Chicago that has the most reported robberies and aggravated assaults. UIC is second in the state in enrollment with 27,589 enrolled students.

The annual campus security reports are due each year by October 1 and are required under the Clery Act, which was established in 1991. The Clery Act was established after 19-year-old Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered in her Lehigh University dorm room in 1986.

Campuses are required to report all crimes that fall under these seven categories.

  • Criminal homicide
  • Sex offenses
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Burglary
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Arson

Campus Statistics

Three of the most common offenses committed on college campuses are sexual offenses, assaults and robberies. Below, you can see which state schools reported the most of each offense in 2013.

Sex Offenses

1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – 20 reports.

2. Northern Illinois University – 12 reports.

3. Eastern Illinois University – 11 reports.

Assaults

1. University of Illinois at Chicago – 36 reports.

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – 23 reports.

3. Southern Illinois University Carbondale – 16 reports.

Robberies

1. University of Illinois at Chicago – 16 reports.

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – 12 reports.

3. Northern Illinois University – 6 reports.

Thankfully, no murders occurred on Illinois college campuses in 2013. For an in-depth look at the statistics, check out this infographic.

Related source: Huffington Post

Illinois Law: Sex Offenders and Halloween 

Illinois Halloween LawsHalloween is just around the corner, and children will soon be running up and down driveways in hopes of filling their candy bucket to the brim. We’re often busy on Halloween too, as the night usually brings a spike in calls for certain juvenile crimes like ding dong ditching and vandalism.

Halloween night carries a common theme for anyone with a child; Be mindful of strangers. Parents usually chaperone younger kids on their Halloween jaunt, and oftentimes they’ll inspect the candy before the tired youngsters dive into a late-night sugar rush, but police are once again providing parents with a Halloween safety tip – Avoid homes where the lights are off. Maybe the lights are off because nobody is home or they simply don’t want to be disturbed, but there could be another reason. The person inside could be a sex offender.

That line isn’t meant to postulate that every dark house is home to a pedophile, but the fact of the matter is that Illinois passed a law last year called the Child Sex Offender Holiday Costume Prohibition law. Terms of the law state that convicted sex offenders are prohibited from participating in a holiday event with children under the age of 18. This means that sex offenders are forbidden from handing out candy on Halloween.

“If the lights aren’t on at the residence, don’t go up to the door,” said O’Fallon Police Lt. Jim Cavins. “What sex offenders must do … similar to somebody who doesn’t want to deal with trick-or-treaters … they have to turn out their outside lights.”

Similar to last Halloween when the law went into effect, police officers will be completing compliance checks to ensure offenders are following the law. If an officer finds that an offender is in violation of the law, they could face revocation of parole and additional jail time.

We’re not trying to scare anyone with this post, and the vast majority of reformed sex offenders want nothing to do with handing out candy on Halloween, but a simple reminder of the law can’t hurt.

Follow these tips to have a safe and happy Halloween!

1.  Trick or Treat in well-lit, familiar neighborhoods.

2.  Always make sure children are supervised by an adult.

3.  Bring a flashlight to see where you are going (and to help others see you!)

4.  Report any suspicious behavior to the proper authorities.

5.  If you or a family member runs into legal trouble on Halloween night, give Appelman & Associates a call.

Related source: Belleville News-Democrat