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The Weekend Desk Report

"U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush has filed a complaint saying he was racially profiled by Chicago police after two officers pulled him over while driving on the South Side in August, according to police sources and city records," the Tribune reports.

"According to the sources, the Wentworth District officers were running plates while on patrol on Aug. 4 because of a rash of vehicle thefts in the Bronzeville neighborhood.

"The officers ran the plate on Rush's Lexus and were told it was registered to a Cadillac, the sources said. The officers then stopped Rush shortly before 3 p.m. in the 4700 block of South King Drive, according to the sources and city records obtained by the Tribune through a Freedom of Information Act request."

Okay, you can click through to read the rest for the whys and wherefores (seems the cops made a mistake interpreting Rush's license plate, ha ha), but this is the part that caught my eye:

"Police officials, citing a new state law, said the Tribune would be able to obtain the camera footage only if Rush gave permission for its release.

"But efforts by the Tribune to contact Rush have been unsuccessful. The Tribune sent repeated e-mails to top Rush staffers seeking to interview the congressman about his racial profiling allegations. A reporter also attempted to interview him at his South Side home, but Rush sent him away, telling him to contact his staff to arrange an interview. But continued requests to his aides went unanswered."

The Rush stonewalling is ridiculous. You are a United States congressman, Bobby. Act like it. (Er, I mean, act like we wished our congressmen acted.)

But that's not even the most significant part of this to me - it's the apparent fact that the police department can only make body camera footage public if the subject consents. I guess I missed (or forgot) that.

I can understand privacy issues - especially if a subject is a victim or witness. But even when the subject is a public official? Maybe that circumstance wasn't contemplated. Or maybe public officials have certain privacy rights like regular humans (they do).

To the law:

Recordings made with the use of an officer-worn body camera are not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, except that:

(1) if the subject of the encounter has a reasonable expectation of privacy, at the time of the recording, any recording which is flagged, due to the filing of a complaint, discharge of a firearm, use of force, arrest or detention, or resulting death or bodily harm, shall be disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act if:

(A) the subject of the encounter captured on the recording is a victim or witness; and (B) the law enforcement agency obtains written permission of the subject or the subject's legal representative;

(2) except as provided in paragraph (1) of this subsection (b), any recording which is flagged due to the filing of a complaint, discharge of a firearm, use of force, arrest or detention, or resulting death or bodily harm shall be disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act; and (3) upon request, the law enforcement agency shall disclose, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, the recording to the subject of the encounter captured on the recording or to the subject's attorney, or the officer or his or her legal representative.

Okay, that's a lot of confusing legalese. Maybe this is the key:

For the purposes of paragraph (1) of this subsection (b), the subject of the encounter does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy if the subject was arrested as a result of the encounter.

Rush was not arrested. His expectation of privacy holds.

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From the Brennan Center in New York:

Under IL law, recordings are subject to FOIA only if flagged for a complaint, discharge of a firearm, use of force, arrest or detention, or death or bodily harm. If a victim or witness is the subject of an encounter and has a reasonable expectation of privacy, that person's permission is necessary for release. Any recording shall be released to the subject of the encounter upon request. Any disclosed recording shall be redacted to remove identification of any person that appears on the recording and is not involved in the encounter.

I spent a little bit of time on the ol' Google (access to the newspaper databases I usually also check for research was down this morning) to find coverage of this aspect of the law while it was being written and debated, and I didn't come up with anything. It would have been nice to see something about it added to the Trib story instead of these final paragraphs, which could have been handled with a simple link on Rush's name to his bio or a topics page:

The onetime co-founder of the Illinois Black Panther Party has been in Congress since 1993, representing parts of the South Side and Cook and Will counties. He was a Chicago alderman for a decade before that. He lost a race for Chicago mayor in 1999.

An ordained Baptist minister, Rush handily defeated Barack Obama in a primary challenge for the congressional seat in 2000, Obama's only electoral loss.

How random and unnecessary.

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It also would have been interesting to see how this provision compares to that of other states. For example, from Reason in July:

Police body camera videos and dash cam recordings in North Carolina are now exempt from state public records laws under a bill signed into law Monday.

North Carolina joins five other states - Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Oregon, and South Carolina - that exempt police body cam videos under freedom of information laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Huh. Seems to me Illinois doesn't exempt body-cam video from FOIA; instead it carves out exceptions. But does this mean there are states that don't have the same exception that applies to Rush in this case? How and why?

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Maybe I just missed all this at the time the Illinois law was being debated, but I have pretty good recall; if I need a reminder, civilian readers surely do. Also, that's the beauty of links: there if you need 'em, ignorable if you don't.

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Maybe the filing of a formal complaint should remove the exception for subjects. Or maybe that would deter the filing of complaints.

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Maybe I'm spending too much time on this, but it seems to me this could come into play down the line when the stakes are higher - not to diminish alleged racial profiling; an operation running plates in response to a rash of car thefts seems . . . odd. Just sayin'.

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Here's the CPD's Special Order from May regarding use of the cameras.

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Beachwood Sports Radio! That's Cubs Entertainment
Highlight reel heroes - daily. Plus: About Tommy La Stella; Cogs!; Hawk Harrelson Still Allowed On Air; White Sox' One Direction: Down; The Chicago Bear Sox; The Case Against Derrick Rose; and College Football's Kickass Kickoff.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: We Are Moving
March 1.

Missing The Point Of The Clinton Foundation Controversy
Donors get high-level access every day in Washington.

Laundromat Owners Oppose Rahm's Water Tax
Price hikes must come in 25-cent increments.

The Fantasy Fix Draft Guide Pt. 5: TEs
Ex-Bears outnumber current.

TV News Stories About Birth Control Quote Politicians And Priests More Often Than Medical Experts
Fewer than one-third of stories featured any medical information at all.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "With lyrics about sun, surf and young love, there are plenty of songs that welcome in the summer. But how do you musically say goodbye to warm weather and prepare for the fall? Jim and Greg swap their swim trunks for their sweaters and share their favorite End of Summer Songs."

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Weekend BeachBoook

11 Reasons People Need To Calm Down About Henry Kissinger And Hillary Clinton Already.

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We Built This S#!tty: An Oral History Of The Worst Song Of All Time.

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Weekend TweetWood
A sampling.

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This . . . doesn't seem right.

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The Weekend Tronc Line: Classifornication.



Permalink

Posted on September 3, 2016


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Vizio Settles Spying Complaints.
POLITICS - WikiLeaks Reveals Staggering Breadth Of CIA Hacking.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Butt Fumbles.

BOOKS - Bannon, The Best And The Brightest.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Descending Darkly.


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