Illinois lawmakers, state police address loophole in FOID clear and present danger rule

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 6:02 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The Illinois State Police faced scrutiny from lawmakers last week surrounding the ability of the Highland Park shooter to get a FOID card months after he was reported as a clear and present danger. State Police filed an administrative rule to address this loophole after the shooting, but members of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules still want answers.

Highland Park police received a concerning report from a juvenile on Sept. 5, 2019, that Robert Crimo III threatened to kill everyone in his family. Local officers confiscated 16 knives, a dagger, and a sword before they submitted a clear and present danger notice to Illinois State Police. Crimo told officers he did not want to hurt himself or others during the investigation of his home. The teenager and his mother also explained that the weapons found in a lunch box belonged to his father.

However, Crimo was still able to apply for a FOID card three months later with his father co-signing the application. ISP had already eliminated that clear and present danger report because Crimo did not have a FOID card or pending FOID application in September of 2019.

“It is clearly above a 50% threshold more likely than not that there was a threat of violence in the home based upon the credibility that’s highlighted by the juvenile victim and calling into question the credibility of the offender who denied the statement,” said Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove).

An administrative rule approved Wednesday states ISP must keep all records of clear and present danger reports regardless of whether someone has a FOID card or pending application. Kelly Griffith, the chief legal counsel for Illinois State Police, said they hope to make that a permanent rule moving forward. Griffith also stressed that public safety is most important to State Police.

“At the time that the clear and present danger came to the Illinois State Police in September of 2019, the rule would not have allowed us to keep that information,” Griffith explained. “That report was actually not kept. We weren’t able to maintain that particular document.”

“I’m not sure I agree with that,” Curran said. “Your rule had no prohibition on keeping that report. Your administrative rule only required the disposal of that report if you actually made a determination that the burden on a clear and present danger was not sustained.”

The new administrative rule clarifies how someone can be recognized as a clear and present danger. It eliminates the previous language that people must pose an actual, impending or imminent threat of bodily harm to themselves or others that could be dangerous to public safety.

The old FOID administrative rule said State Police were responsible for making the final determination regarding whether or not a clear and present danger existed in order to revoke or deny a FOID card. Some lawmakers feel the agency failed in following its own rule.

“Are you going through all of your different policies to look for the gaps to make sure that we don’t have to wait until we’re in this situation again before we recognize that there’s a gap here,” asked Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris).

“Yes, mam. We are,” Griffith said.

Rezin said the Pritzker administration clearly accepted the fact that it had the authority and ability to enforce and strengthen the state’s existing laws and rules. She also noted that Gov. JB Pritzker promised to do so after the deadly Aurora warehouse shooting in 2019. Rezin said it is infuriating to learn that Illinois had the ability to prevent the Highland Park shooter from obtaining a FOID card in the first place.

Sen. Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles) supported the new administrative rule, but was also critical of the Pritzker administration. DeWitte said the administration’s review of the FOID card process following the Aurora shooting failed to recognize the gap in interpretation and application of clear and present danger reports sent to State Police.

“Local police in Highland Park did their due diligence to alert the State Police of this individual, but because of the gap, which was overlooked in the Pritzker Administration, the report was discarded,” DeWitte stated.

State Police filed the rule on July 15 and it will remain in effect for 150 days.

Copyright 2022 WGEM. All rights reserved.