New Laws for Law Enforcement Agencies in 2016

Officer-Involved Deaths, Body Cameras, Terry Stops, Towing of Vehicles, and More

By Kateah M. McMasters

On January 1, 2016 several new laws regulating law enforcement agencies and their activities went into effect.  A brief summary of each law is provided below.

Public Act 99-352

Law Enforcement Officer-Worn Body Camera ActThe Act provides that any agency that elects to use body cameras must adopt a written policy relating to their use, provide training to those officers that use the cameras, and provide an annual report to the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board (the “Board”).  Note that the Act only applies to law enforcement agencies that elect to use body cameras; it does not require agencies to use body cameras.

The annual report required by the Act must be submitted to the Board on or before May 1st of each year, and include (1) a brief overview of the agency’s composition; (2) the number of officers using body cameras; (3) the number of body cameras being used; (4) any technical issues with equipment and how they are fixed; (5) a brief description of the review process used by supervisors; and (6) the time, date, precinct, offense charged, date charges filed, and any other relevant information for each recording that is used in the prosecution of an offense.

The Act also provides that the body camera recordings are generally exempt from disclosure under FOIA.  However, such recordings must be disclosed in accordance with FOIA in any of the following situations: (1) the subject is a victim or witness and the agency obtains written permission from the subject or his legal representative; (2) the recording 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; or (3) the subject of the recording, his attorney or his legal representative requests it.

Additionally, the Law Enforcement Camera Grant Act (50 ILCS 707/5) provides financial assistance to municipalities for the purpose of purchasing body cameras.

Terry StopsSection 11-212 of the Illinois Vehicle Code has been amended to include that officers complete a “uniform pedestrian stop card” (“Stop Card”) for a pedestrian that is frisked, searched, or arrested.  A Stop Card must include the date; time; location; gender of the pedestrian; alleged reasons for the stop; whether a frisk was conducted; reasons for the frisk; whether the frisk was by consent or other means; whether contraband was found during the frisk; type and amount of contraband seized; whether a search was conducted; reasons for the search; whether the search was by consent or other means; whether the stop resulted in a warning, ticket or arrest; and the name and badge number of the officer.

The forms currently used by a majority of law enforcement agencies do not contain all of the required information.  Therefore, it is recommended that an agency prepare or obtain new forms or modify existing forms to comply with the law.

Additionally, Section 107-14 of the Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure was amended to include a requirement for officers to issue a “stop receipt” when a person is stopped in a public place, the officer reasonably believes the person is committing, about to commit, or has committed a crime (excluding traffic offenses and ordinance violations), and the officer conducts a frisk or search.  The stop receipt must contain the officer’s name, badge number, and reason for the stop.  However, the officer is not required to issue a stop receipt if it is impractical, impossible or exigent circumstances exist.

The key difference between a “stop card” and “stop receipt” is the nature of the violation.  A stop card is issued to pedestrians that are stopped based upon a violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code, while a stop receipt is issued to any individual that is temporarily stopped for questioning in relation to criminal activity and not subject to arrest.

Police and Community Relations Improvement ActThe Act requires all law enforcement agencies to have a written policy regarding the investigation of officer-involved deaths.  An officer-involved death is the death of any individual caused by an act or intentional omission of a law enforcement officer while acting within the scope of his employment.

The policy must provide that the investigation shall be conducted by at least 2 investigators who are not employed by the agency involved in the death, and the lead investigator must be certified by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board (the “Board”) as a Lead Homicide Investigator.  If the death involves a motor vehicle accident, the policy must provide that at least one investigator shall be certified by the Board as a Crash Reconstruction Specialist.  Finally, the policy must require the investigators to provide a report to the State’s Attorney or to publicly release it if the State’s Attorney declines to prosecute.

The Act permits an agency to conduct an internal investigation into an officer-involved death as long as it does not interfere with the outside investigation required by the Act.

Uniform Crime Reporting ActThe Act requires all law enforcement agencies to submit the following information to the Illinois State Police (ISP) on a monthly basis: a report for any arrest-related death (not including death of an officer), discharge of a firearm by an officer causing a non-fatal injury (beginning January 1, 2017), a report on hate crimes, a report on any alleged commission of a domestic crime, data on specific offenses selected by ISP, and data on offenses and incidents reported by schools.

In addition to the monthly reports, beginning July 1, 2016, all agencies must submit information regarding a criminal homicide as required by ISP rules and regulations on a quarterly basis.

Officer Professional Conduct Database:  The Illinois Police Training Act was amended to now require that all law enforcement agencies notify the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board (the “Board”) when there has been a final determination of a willful violation of agency policy, official misconduct, or violation of law if an officer is discharged as a result of the violation or resigns during the course of an investigation.  The agency must notify the Board of the nature of the violation within 30 days of the final determination.

Use of ForceThe Illinois Criminal Code was amended to prohibit peace officers from using chokeholds in the performance of their duties, unless deadly force is justified under the Criminal Code.  A chokehold is defined as “applying any direct pressure to the throat, windpipe, or airway of another with the intent to reduce or prevent the intake of air.”

Public Act 99-438

Tow Rotation ListThe Act amends the Illinois Vehicle Code by requiring any law enforcement agency whose duties include the patrol of highways to maintain a tow rotation list.  The list must be used by officers when authorizing any vehicle tow within its jurisdiction.  The agency is allowed to maintain multiple lists covering different geographic locations within its jurisdiction; a towing service may be included on more than one list.

Any towing service may apply for inclusion on the rotation list by submitting an application in the form and manner provided by the law enforcement agency.  In order to be included on the rotation list, a towing service must meet the requirements set forth in the Act (see 625 ILCS 5/4-203.5).  An agency may select which towing service(s) meeting these requirements will be included on the rotation list.  Complaints regarding inclusion on the list should be referred in writing to the head of the agency; however, an agency cannot be held liable for excluding a service from the list.

When an officer initiates a vehicle tow, he must inform his agency that a tow has been authorized.  The agency must then select a towing service from the list and contact the service directly.  Towing services must be contacted in the order listed; however, in the event a service is unavailable, the next service on the list should be contacted.  An agency may also deviate from the order listed in the event of an emergency, or if the officer or agency determines the service is not properly equipped to handle the tow.  Whenever a towing service that has not been requested arrives on scene, the officer is obligated to tell that service to leave.


Posted in Kateah McMasters, Local Government and Public Finance, Police