The Illinois Law Enforcement Officer Worn Body Camera Act was enacted January 1, 2016. The law contains many provisions to ensure that all activity between a police officer and persons with whom he/she deals with while on duty are captured with a recording. The statute applies to all "law enforcement agencies" including State, county and municipal police officers. Traffic stops, pedestrian stops, and traffic control activities must be captured via body cam. The recording must be stored a minimum of 90 days. The recording must be available to all requestors during that time period. The recordings must be maintained longer than the 90 day period when they are relevant to an arrest and charge against an offender, death or great bodily harm resulted from police contact, and other investigatory matters into a police officer's conduct.
Hopefully this statute will provide a meaningful answer to questions raised by criminal defendants and others who claim officers acted improperly. One problem that is apparent is the lack of wording that would require sanctions be ordered against an offending police officer or agency who destroys a body cam video in contravention of this law. Given the case of People v. Kladis, the law should have included such a provision. The law allows a finder of fact to only assess the weight given should a body cam video be destroyed. Under Kladis, the judge can properly impose sanctions including barring all testimony from the officer or agency that inadvertently destroys such evidence.
From a practice standpoint it is imperative that all criminal defense attorneys file a notice to preserve and motion for discovery including all body camera footage that may exist for all officers that were present at the scene or investigation. This request should be built into the already used request for dash cam and jailhouse footage. Quick filing of such notice should be made. If an issue arises whereby the video is missing or unavailable the prompt filing of the notice should put one's client in a much better position to argue for sanctions against the State.