City Liability Feared Under Ex-Officer Weapons Law


At a time when Chicago is trying to get guns off the street, a new federal law that permits retired law-enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons promises to have the opposite effect and could cost taxpayers millions of dollars in legal claims, says a city attorney quoted by the Chicago Tribune. “Washington, D.C., should not decide who carries [weapons] in Chicago,” deputy corporation counsel Lawrence Rosenthal told a City Council committee. “Very significant questions of liability are raised.”

The city could be named in suits alleging wrongful force because it issues identification cards to retired Chicago officers, opening the door for them to be armed, Rosenthal said. The 9,000 retired city officers receive no refresher training and do not undergo physical and mental evaluations after leaving the Police Department. The right to carry concealed weapons under the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 applies to former officers who retired in “good standing.” The act does not define what that means, and it provides the right to people who served “a wide variety of agencies” nationwide, Rosenthal said. That means that a retiree “from some mosquito abatement district in Louisiana” might be able to carry a weapon while visiting Chicago, he said. The committee advanced a resolution calling on Congress and the Illinois legislature to protect municipalities from liability arising from the new law.


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