Experts say traffic camera bills on Pritzker’s desk are ripe for abuse – Muddy River News
Governor JB Pritzker | Photo courtesy of Illinois Politics
Two bills on Governor JB Pritzker’s desk could to expand Illinois highway camera surveillance program to cover an additional 6,600 miles of road in 22 counties as the General Assembly seeks to crack down on highway crime ahead of the November election.
House Bill 260 and House Bill 448 – adopted alongside 80 other proposals in the last dayof the legislative session – would see the governor expand a Cook County license plate monitoring pilot program to the rest of Illinois with $20 million in new funding.
The measure would add hundreds of new cameras while increasing the number of crimes the cameras can be used to investigate and the number of parties that can prosecute them.
While lawmakers argue the bills could help investigate and prosecute crimes on state highways, Illinois State Police note that they have not been able to quantify the number of crimes solved by cameras during Cook County. pilot program.
Civil liberty groups opposed to the devices said there was a lack of transparency that leaves the program ripe for abuse. There is no information on how the cameras are placed, drivers are prohibited from reviewing footage when charged with offenses and law enforcement is required to delete the video 120 days after the incident. recording, which essentially destroys the evidence.
ISP spokesperson Melaney Arnold said the agency would not finalize and share camera locations until after the bill is signed into law. The new legislation excludes in particular explicit indications on the roads which would benefit from the additional surveillance.
“Who decides on the location of the cameras? asked State Senator Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington. “Are the cameras placed in areas more frequented by more minorities and does that give a discriminatory effect to the fact that we are targeting certain populations?”
“While these tools may bring some benefit to the public, the risk is that they are susceptible to abuse and have a chilling effect on public life.”
The measures change the Highway Camera Act of 2020, which placed about 100 license plate reading cameras on the Dan Ryan Freeway in Chicago with a $12.5 million IDOT grant. The program was launched in response to an increase in highway shootings during the pandemic.
The ISP has reported 72 freeway shootings in Cook County so far in 2022.
HB 4481 would extend the program to highways and national highways in the counties of Boone, Bureau, Champaign, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Henry, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Macon, Madison, McHenry, Morgan, Peoria, Rock Island, Sangamon, St Clair, Will and Winnebago.
State Rep. LaToya Greenwood, an East St. Louis Democrat who sponsored the bill, said camera locations will be chosen based on traffic data. The counties were chosen following discussions with law enforcement and lawmakers who saw the need for additional crime-solving tools.
If signed, HB 260 would allow police to use camera footage to also investigate hijackings and forcible crimes such as murder, felony sexual assault, robbery, burglary, arson, kidnapping and aggravated bodily harm.
The bill would also give the attorney general’s office, as well as local state attorneys, the power to prosecute felony, firearms trafficking and firearms offenses on highways patrolled by camera.
Yet lawmakers have expressed concern over the ban on citizens viewing videos of alleged violations before evidence is suppressed, which creates wide scope for abuse and discrimination by law enforcement authorities. ‘State.
“The ISP basically determines where the cameras go. He gets the video and doesn’t release it, and he doesn’t have to provide a justifiable reason,” said state Rep. Curtis Tarver, a Democrat from Chicago. “And at the same time, the Attorney General can potentially prosecute suspected criminals, but we also write into law that we will remove the very video against which the Attorney General may have to defend these officers. It’s crazy.”