Inquiry targets Chicago FD badges reported lost, stolen

The Office of the Inspector General issued an advisory regarding the high number of FD retirees reporting missing or stolen badges


By FireRescue1 staff   

CHICAGO — Chicago’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued an advisory this week regarding the high number of Chicago Fire Department (CFD) badges reported lost or stolen, with most reports coming from department retirees within three to six months of their retirement.

OIG records from Jan. 1, 2015, through June 30, 2020, showed that 340 CFD members reported their badges as stolen or lost. Approximately 80% of the reports came from retiring CFD members, with 22.6% of those retiring members submitting the report within the 6 months prior to their retirement.

A disproportionate number of CFD badges have been reported lost or stolen in recent years, an OIG inquiry determined.
A disproportionate number of CFD badges have been reported lost or stolen in recent years, an OIG inquiry determined.

The OIG – a “watchdog” group with jurisdiction to conduct investigations into most aspects of City government – concluded that there were two possible reasons for the high number of missing or stolen badge reports:

  1. CFD members are stealing the badges and filing false police reports so they can retain their CFD badge upon retirement; or
  2. CFD members are misplacing their badges and not reporting them missing or stolen until it is time to return their badges at retirement.

The advisory warned, “Theft of City property and filing false police reports are crimes, and failing to immediately report a missing or stolen CFD badge is a violation of protocol and rules.” 

Interim Inspector General William Marback further clarified the seriousness of the issue: “The failure to properly account for CFD badges is a control risk and raises concerns for potential misconduct, considering that CFD badges designate the holder as having official authority conferred by the City.”

Following the OIG inquiry, the CFD announced that it will update its Badge and Cap Device Policy to align with the following OIG recommendations:

  1. Members must report lost or stolen badges within 24 hours;
  2. Members who lose or destroy a badge must pay for the cost of a replacement badge;
  3. Members who do not pay for the cost of a replacement badge will be subject to discipline and/or wage garnishment for the replacement cost; and
  4. Condition eligibility for a retirement badge on the tendering of a member’s active duty badge at the time of retirement.

Marback added, “The Chicago Fire Department and the Office of Public Safety Administration have offered assurance that the issue of lost or stolen badges will be taken seriously, and have committed to adhering to the proper protocols concerning City property and the enforcement of discipline when staff aren’t in compliance with said protocols.”

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