Chicago City Wire

Chicago City Wire

Friday, February 28, 2020

Heartland Institute manager: Gun Offender Dashboard might not make much of a difference


By Glenn Minnis | Aug 28, 2019


Lennie Jarratt fears the new Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) Gun Offender Dashboard website could end up being a case of a well-intended plan having too many unintended consequences.

“It would have people charged with things like unlawful possession on the same page as those facing much more serious crimes,” Jarratt, project manager for the Center for Transforming Education at the Heartland Institute, told Chicago City Wire. “We have so many regulations now that possession can be a simple charge. I get that they want to list those that have committed felonies. The piece I don’t like is unlawful possession because you can do that for almost anybody and it can be as simple as you didn’t get a FOID card. I think that’s overkill because those are probably not criminals, just people who had a problem with their FOID card.”

Under the guidelines of the program, the CPD would broadcast adult gun-related criminal charges as well as post the bond statuses of those charged with gun crimes as a way of demonstrating to the public how much ground the department is covering in its efforts to sweep the streets of violent gun offenders only to be forced to have contend with many of them soon being released by being allowed to post bond.

"I really don’t know how much difference the website will make because the majority of the people you’re talking about that will be on the website are criminals, and that’s not going to make much difference to them,” Jarratt said. “I think we might be better served using our resources in other areas.”

One area where Jarratt thinks doing more could lead to having a greater impact toward the overall goal is in the area of mental health.

“I would like to see more done with mental health treatment,” he said. “Cook County Jail is the largest mental health facility in the state of Illinois. People end up in jail instead of being treated for mental health, and that becomes an issue when they’re on the street again.”

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