Can I use a video camera to record police officers performing their duties in public, in Illinois? I was threatened with jail tonight by a police officer if I didn't shut off the camera that was filming him. Here is the
I wasn't attempting to hide the camera, nor was I interfering with his duties in any way. The video records from the beginning of the encounter to when I shut it off in response to his threat. In this incident, we (the group) were doing absolutely nothing illegal and were let off after he took down our names and checked our IDs.
I was under the impression that filming police officers in the act was legal. Too many episodes of police brutality are caught by citizens on film that no state legislature could make recording public officers illegal.
Is it legal?
And even if it is legal, I'm assuming he would try to force me to stop filming somehow. What would the officer be likely to do? Arrest me for interfering with his job? Loitering? Would he try to seize the tape and camera as evidence (of some undisclosed crime)?
Another related question: in Illinois, can I refuse to identify myself to a police officer when stopped while walking on a public sidewalk at midnight? Illinois's stop-and-identify law
(725 ILCS 5/107‑14) (from Ch. 38, par. 107‑14)
Sec. 107‑14. Temporary questioning without arrest.
A peace officer, after having identified himself as a peace officer, may stop any person in a public place for a reasonable period of time when the officer reasonably infers from the circumstances that the person is committing, is about to commit or has committed an offense as defined in Section 102‑‑15 of this Code, and may demand the name and address of the person and an explanation of his actions. Such detention and temporary questioning will be conducted in the vicinity of where the person was stopped.
(Source: Laws 1968, p. 218.)
In this instance, a group of 5 18-year-olds (who, to be terribly stereotypical, do not look dangerous by community standards) were walking on a sidewalk with a bottle of sparkling cider (non-alcoholic, and the officer couldn't have seen the bottle before he stopped his car due to the darkness and fog). Maybe it's hard to tell from the description, but does this situation satisfy the burden of reasonable suspicion for the whole group? Assuming it does not, can I be completely silent or do I need to give a reason for my presence to show I'm not loitering? Personal anecdotes of resisting police demands to identify oneself would be greatly appreciated.