Springfield, IL – A Republican lawmaker has introduced legislation that would require all elected officials in Illinois to wear bodycams while conducting public business.
Illinois State Representative John Cabello said he sponsored his legislation to try and reduce political corruption at state and local levels, the Rockford Register Star reported.
“We see the dealings going on in Chicago with some of the wiretaps and some of the corruption that’s been going on for decades,” Cabello said.
“We hear of the state lawmakers that get themselves into trouble with bribes and so on and so forth." He added. "So, I just thought that since the state was looking at making all police officers wear body cameras, I figured this might be a good way to have records of what lawmakers are doing.”
Cabello, a veteran Rockford police officer, said his bodycam bill is not an attempt to reinvent the wheel, but rather to utilize a tool that has worked well for law enforcement, the Rockford Register Star reported.
“It’s going to be the same as what law enforcement will have to do,” he said. “There’s not going to be one person going through all of the recordings. It’s more of if someone makes an allegation or a complaint, you’ll at least have some footage to go through.”
House Bill 3447 would have the State Board of Elections create the actual rules for usage of the bodycams, the Rockford Register Star reported.
Cabello said bodycam videos could be used as evidence in any administrative, judicial, legislative or disciplinary proceeding involving public officials.
However, the bodycam video would not be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, according to the Rockford Register Star.
His proposed law would apply to city, county, and state elected officials, the legislator said.
“If they want to be an elected official, they should be following the law,” Cabello said. “If they don’t want to, I think they ultimately shouldn’t be an elected official. We would find ways of being able to remove them.”
Elected officials who break the law would be subject to fines, the Rockford Register Star reported.
Illinois State Representative Joe Sosnowski called Cabello’s proposal a unique and expensive approach to reducing corruption in government.
“If it’s limited to certain groups of officials, that could limit the cost, but it could be extremely expensive,” Sosnowski said. “Then, of course, you have all of the backroom support and infrastructure as far as recording and maintaining the records and the servers and those folks to maintain that. It would probably be a very costly endeavor and I think it would be very difficult to enforce when they actually were using it.”
Democratic State Senator Steve Stadelman suggested he’d consider the bill but that Cabello should try it out first, the Rockford Register Star reported.
“Before we spend lots of taxpayer dollars on putting cameras on 177 lawmakers and thousands of other public officials around the state, I wonder if Rep. Cabello would be interested in a pilot body camera project,” Stadelman suggested.
Cabello said he’d had positive feedback from constituents, but he doesn’t think his bodycam proposal will receive the same welcome from lawmakers.
He told the Rockford Register Star he would be surprised if his fellow legislators would even consider HB 3447.
“I think there will be some elected officials that will support it but I doubt it’s even going to get a committee hearing in Springfield,” Cabello said. “The majority party, they won’t want to hear this. I can’t see [House Speaker Mike] Madigan letting this see the light of day.”