OIG Releases Evaluation that Finds CPD’s Noncompliance with FOID Card Act Allows Individuals Posing a Clear and Present Danger to Continue Accessing Firearms

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General’s Public Safety Section (PS) has issued an Evaluation that found that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) did not comply with the mandatory reporting requirements under the Illinois Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Card Act for individuals CPD believes pose a clear and present danger.  As a result, the Illinois State Police (ISP) was not notified of the need for a FOID card revocation determination and that CPD may have returned firearms to individuals whose FOID-based permission to possess firearms would have otherwise been revoked. In a time of continuously high gun violence in Chicago, full compliance with the FOID Card Act is an important mechanism for law enforcement to keep firearms from those who are not fit or qualified to possess them.

The Illinois FOID Card Act mandates that law enforcement officials (as well as other specified categories of professionals including school administrators), preliminarily determine if a person they encounter poses a clear and present danger to themselves, others, or the public and, in such cases, file a FOID notification report with ISP within 24 hours. PS’s Evaluation focused on one category of individual for whom such reporting would have been mandated and found that CPD was in compliance in only 2 of 37 cases in the past 3 years.

PS recommended that CPD create and implement a department  directive mandating compliance with the state law reporting requirement, improve department access to the mandatory reporting forms, create relevant curricula, and provide adequate training for current and new employees that includes: 1) an introduction to the FOID Card Act, with special attention paid to CPD’s reporting duties and the importance of information provided to ISP; 2) guidance on what constitutes “clear and present danger”; and 3) instruction on how to properly complete and submit forms and other necessary identification that should be submitted to ISP.

In response, CPD concurred with Public Safety’s findings and recommendations. To address its noncompliance, CPD has formalized and began distribution and implementation of a standalone directive that instructs officers on reporting requirements. CPD has also updated the Police Academy’s training curricula to reflect reporting obligations pursuant to the FOID Card Act.

“CPD’s noncompliance with the FOID Card Act has deprived it of a critical tool to take guns out of the hands of individuals who pose a threat to public safety as part of its larger effort to combat gun violence,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “Today’s report, the first from the new Public Safety Section, is demonstrative of the benefits of independent civilian oversight in assisting CPD in identifying ways of improving operations, and enhancing public safety and fostering public confidence through effective performance of its important responsibilities.

The full report can be found online.

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