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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: October 24, 2013 12:47 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: Wiretap exception
2002 Act 52 amended the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act (18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 57) to provide an exception to the general prohibition against intercepting and disclosing an oral communication. The exception is for a recorder which is mounted in a law enforcement officer’s vehicle. Recording traffic stops or other situations in which an officer in a vehicle responds to an incident provides protection to both the officer and the individual involved in case there is later a dispute about how the stop or incident was handled.

I am introducing a bill that amends the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act to remove the limitation that the recorder must be mounted in the law enforcement officer’s vehicle. These recording devices are now available to law enforcement officers even if the officer is on a motorcycle, a horse or a bicycle as examples, or is on foot. The same reasoning applies. When there is an interaction between a law enforcement officer and an individual, the recording device protects both the officer and the individual.

The restrictions in current law still apply. At the time of the interception, the oral communication may not occur inside the residence of the individual. The officer must be clearly identifiable as a law enforcement officer. The officer must be in close proximity to the individual’s communication. As soon as reasonably practicable, the officer must inform the individual that he has intercepted and recorded the oral communication.

The law defines a “recorder” as an electronic, mechanical or other device used to store an oral communication on tape or on some other comparable medium. As with the recording devices mounted in a law enforcement officer’s vehicle, any of these recording devices must be approved by the State Police.

I hope that you will join me in cosponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as SB1168