DeKALB – An almost $7,600 grant awarded to the DeKalb Police Department by the Illinois State Police will help officers target non-compliant gun ownership in the city, Police Chief David Byrd said.
The DeKalb department is one of 32 law enforcement agencies across Illinois awarded a portion of $1 million in grants meant to aid departments in identifying firearm users who aren’t up to date on their Firearm Owners Identification cards, according to a recent news release from the Illinois State Police.
Byrd said compliance checks for legal firearm ownership aren’t new to DeKalb, but the agency appreciates the extra resources, meant to aid additional compliance checks through June 30, 2023.
“The whole idea is not to remove firearms from people who can legally own them, but there are situations that might come up where your firearm’s card for whatever reason might be revoked or loses its active status, and we need to as a law enforcement agency try to get you back into compliance,” Byrd said. “So compliance is key.”
Byrd said he understands that recent gun violence that has made headlines has some concerned. He said compliance checks are just another step to making the community safer.
“We have had a lot of gun violence, but when I say ‘a lot,’ I mean it’s respective to the size of our city,” Byrd said. “If you compare it to Chicago, it wouldn’t seem like a lot, but when you look at it through the lens of the residents of DeKalb, it might seem like a lot.”
Byrd said the Illinois State Police will provide the DeKalb Police Department with a list of firearm owners in the city whose FOID cards have been revoked. Police officers will then make their rounds checking compliance.
The enforcement details are intended to focus on people who pose a significant threat to themselves or others, according to the ISP. That includes anyone who’s the subject of a firearm restraining order or received a criminal conviction, among other criteria, according to the release. Under Illinois law, those convicted of a felony cannot possess a firearm or ammunition.
Byrd said compliance checks aren’t about making arrests, but ensuring those in possession of a gun are doing so legally.
“You can make traffic stops and you can find out that someone has a revoked FOID card and they shouldn’t be in possession of that revoked FOID card,” Byrd said. “So a lot of times those compliance checks happen every day unexpectedly just through the police work that’s being done on a daily basis.”
According to the ISP, from 2020 through the end of August 2022, compliance checks and firearm eligibility procedures by state police halted more than 97,000 unlawful attempts to obtain a firearm.
A recent statewide firearms enforcement stint from July 16 through July 31 included 1,742 compliance checks, according to the ISP. During those checks 1,027 people surrendered their FOID cards, transferred all firearms from their possession and completed a Firearm Disposition Record, which under the Illinois FOID Card Act requires firearm owners to list each firearm they previously owned and to whom it was surrendered.
Funding for the compliance enforcement grants was distributed from the State Police Revocation Fund, according to the ISP, and made possible through Public Act 102-0237.