An Illinois student spotted a police officer apparently napping in his patrol car and began recording cell phone video.
Matt Fedora, a student at Southern Illinois University, said the Carbondale police officer appeared to be sleeping behind the wheel of his cruiser for nearly three hours in a church parking lot.
After driving past the dozing cop several times, the student said he stopped and recorded cell phone video.
The Carbondale police officer noticed the student, Matt Fedora, and denied he was sleeping.
The officer became aware that he was being watched and rolled down his window.
“What’s up, bud?” the officer says in the video.
Fedora accused him of sleeping in the patrol car and said he was upset because his home had been burglarized a week earlier and $4,000 in electronics were stolen.
The officer denied sleeping, and Fedora accused him of lying.
“If you keep lying, I’m going to post this on Youtube,” says Fedora, who ended up posting the video on his Facebook page.
“Oh, so you’re recording?” the officer says, and student admits that he is. “Are you aware that it’s now illegal to record a police officer in public?”
It’s actually not illegal to record police officers performing their duties in public.
“It’s perfectly legal to video (record) people in public, specifically police officers,” said Jane Adams, a Carbondale city councilwoman.
She can’t be certain whether the officer, who has not been identified, was sleeping while on duty, but she said the incident shows police need better training to uphold citizens’ rights.
Carbondale’s interim police chief said the department would investigate the incident.
“We don’t condone, nor will we tolerate, any type of workplace misconduct,” said interim Chief Jeff Grubbs.
The Illinois Supreme Court struck down a previously passed law in March that legally barred the recording of conversations without the consent of all parties – which essentially prohibited recordings of police encounters without the officer’s permission.
But a new bill, sponsored by a pair of Democratic lawmakers, was passed in December to clarify state law on the recordings of private conversations.
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill into law Dec. 31 requiring all parties involved in a private conversation to consent to being recorded.
However, the new law does not prohibit recordings made in public.
“On-duty police officers have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their conversations in public places,” the Illinois chapter of the ACLU said in a statement.
The new law is not without its critics.
Liberals warn that the legislation expands police authority to eavesdrop on conversations, and conservatives complain that it doesn’t offer enough clarification on the use of police body cameras.
Watch video of the incident posted online by Photography Is Not A Crime: