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Proposed Law Targets Actions of Police Dispatchers

March 13th, 2014 at 12:19 pm

police, new law, Illinois, criminal defense, criminal lawyer, criminal attorney criminal defense lawyerIt is widely known that those who work in law enforcement are held to relatively high standards. Police officers are responsible for upholding the law, and for conducting themselves in an honest way in investigations and when communicating with suspects. While many may expect the same level of professionalism from those who work closely with law enforcement though, the fact of the matter is that most public employees whose positions overlap with law enforcement are not duty-bound to uphold the law.

 Different Legal Consequences

Police dispatchers regularly fulfill their duties, much like the police officers with whom they team, to serve and protect members of the public. However, they, unlike members of law enforcement, cannot be prosecuted for certain violations, such as revealing information to suspects regarding investigations targeting them. A recent article suggests that this may change if Illinois enacts a proposed law from Senator Dave Koehler from Peoria, which passed to the Senate last week.

 Proposed Law

Senator Koehler’s reasoning behind the measure is that it is inconsistent to hold the individuals who are responsible for supporting the police to a lower standard than the officers themselves regarding upholding the law. Under the proposed law, any dispatcher or other law enforcement agency employee who communicates information obtained through their employment, which delays or prevents the investigation of a crime or the apprehension or prosecution of a suspect, will be guilty of official misconduct. The crime will be considered a Class 3 felony.

 Past Actions have Gone Unpunished

Such a scenario played out a few years ago in a suburb of Chicago, when a dispatcher tipped off a local drug dealer that police officers were in the vicinity of his residence. Although the dispatcher was originally found guilty of official misconduct, the Illinois Supreme Court later overturned her conviction on the basis that no law covered the offense.

In another case, a former custodian in Pekin City was accused of collecting information from the police department regarding meth-related investigations in 2010 and 2011 during the course of her employment there and later sharing the information with suspects. She was charged in federal court for this, as well as for participating in a meth sales conspiracy, and is set to go to trial in May. She has not been charged on the state level, however, since no charge exists to address her actions.

It is the hope that the proposed law would effectively act to fill that gap in state law, and be enforced to cover the situations involving law enforcement employees and dispatchers described above.If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the state of Illinois, an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney can defend your rights. Contact us today for a consultation.

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