SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois State Police told a small group of lawmakers Tuesday morning that they’ve significantly improved the FOID card and CCL backlog. While many across the state have waited over a year for this update, officials say they took that time to create a stronger system.
Last month, ISP received over 14,800 applications and approved over 67,000. State Police Legal Counsel Yvette Loizen explained that number included many applications that added up throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She also noted it’s the department’s largest number of approvals completed during one month in years.
Officials also mentioned ISP looked into the FOID process after hiring more employees during the height of COVID-19 in order to make their work more efficient. The Firearms Services bureau started 2020 with 21 firearm eligibility analysts.
“Since that time, we’ve added 29 more FEAs,” said Lt. Greg Hacker, ISP Firearm Services Bureau Chief. “So, we more than doubled that workforce. We have a plan to hire another five or six by July. We should be up to 35 total hired since the beginning of 2020.”
Hacker also explained ISP has hired 25 contractual workers to focus on the correlation files and potential prohibitors for FOID cardholders or applicants.
Training new employees
It takes six months to get new workers operating in the FOID system. Although, Hacker emphasized that it generally takes about a year before employees can work independently. However, he says ISP is already seeing success from that training.
“As that continues to build and those folks come online full-time, completely independent those numbers will just get better along with these process improvements. That will help us start to accelerate that decision down the other side of the hill,” Hacker added.
Lawmakers serving on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules said they look forward to working on long-term solutions for the FOID backlog as well.
“Within the last two days, I’ve gotten emails from folks, they applied last July. We’re nine months in, haven’t heard a word,” said Sen. Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles).
“I wouldn’t say we’re over the hump,” Hacker responded. “We’re on top of it. I do think we’re starting to see that. We have over the last three months, our experts have shown us, that we’re starting to bend the curve in our direction. Again, it’s a slow process.”
Anyone with expired FOID cards or concealed carry licenses were also granted another 150-day extension due to the backlog. JCAR members approved the emergency rule after ISP officials agreed to amend the language and tie it to Gov. JB Pritzker’s emergency declaration.