Kudos to Cook County ASA Lawrence X. O'Reilly. Really. It isn't often you'll see something like that here, but I'm sincere.
A recent Chicago Sun-Times article reports that ASA O'Reilly, supervisor of Chicago's Cook County Traffic Division is calling on the feckless and beleaguered Chicago Police Department to make sure those police officers who focus on DUI enforcement be assigned squad cars equipped with video cameras.
Mr. O'Reilly notes that video equipment will benefit police officers and help protect the rights of those they encounter.
As any seasoned Illinois DUI attorney will tell you, many a video has dramatically affected the course of a DUI prosecution. I've reviewed over a thousand arrest videos. Some outright contradicted the officer's written reports, while others merely raised questions. Quite a few strongly supported the officer's version of the events. In those cases, my clients appreciated the clarity of a look back in time.
Not long ago, a very experienced police officer from a large town in suburban Cook county discussed his video experience with me, angry that his municipality had decided to pull the video machines from squad cars (they were losing too many cases because of a few bad eggs, and this was their solution).
Officer C, as we'll call him, recalls a perfectly average DUI arrest. Nice, clean-cut middle-aged lady. Well dressed and well mannered. No trouble or guff at all ending in a moderate 0.13 breath result. That all changed when she returned to the police station two hours after her release to complain that officer C had called her horrible names, verbally abused her and slammed her face-first onto the hood of his car. Ouch.
Maybe she just forgot that he mentioned the video. Hmm? Officer C's commanding officer reviewed the video right then and there and told the woman where to go.
The point of course, is that transparency in law enforcement is a good thing, but more on that later . . .