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Police may soon have to videotape more interrogations

State Rep. Scott Drury D-Highwood answered questions from constituents thfocused largely penireform. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media

State Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, answered questions from constituents that focused largely on penion reform. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 10, 2013 6:26AM

Police across Illinois have been required to videotape interrogations of murder suspects since 2005, but the General Assembly recently passed a bill that would expand the requirement to eight other crimes.

Rep. Scott Drury (D-Highwood) says the bill “strikes a blow at Illinois’ horrific track record of wrongful convictions while also protecting police officers from false accusations of misconduct.”

The bill, approved by votes of 66-50 in the House and 55-3 in the Senate, now moves to the governor. Gov. Pat Quinn took a “neutral position” on the bill and “will examine it when it reaches his desk,” said David Blanchett, a spokesman for the governor.

The bill would requi re videotaped interrogations for the following crimes:

◆ Predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and aggravated arson, starting June 1, 2014.

◆ Aggravated kidnapping, aggravated vehicular hijacking and home invasion, starting June 1, 2015.

◆ Aggravated criminal sexual assault, armed robbery and aggravated battery with a firearm, starting June 1, 2016.

If the police don’t record interrogations involving those crimes, there will be a legal presumption the evidence is inadmissible, Drury said.

The Chicago Police Department was worried about previous versions of the legislation, which would have applied to a much broader spectrum of felonies, including drug cases.

Currently, the department creates about 700 videos of interrogations in murder cases per year.

Under the previous bill, the department was concerned the number of cases requiring electronic recordings could skyrocket to more than 8,000 a year — and cost the city millions of dollars to install additional recording equipment.

But the police department took a neutral position on the bill that passed, said Drury, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago.

“I come at this as a former prosecutor,” Drury said. “I am not out to get law enforcement.”

Chicago Police spokesman Adam Collins said in a statement: “Supt. McCarthy and Mayor Emanuel support expanding videotaping interrogations for serious crimes. Videotaping is an important tool for police, and a critical element to building faith in our criminal-justice system. We’re looking at the new law now to fully understand the resources needed to expand our videotaping capacity.”

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