Inspector General Department of the Interior – Review of U.S. Park Police Weapons Accountability Program

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on June 27, 2013

Review of U.S. Park Police Weapons Accountability Program, June 2013

The Office of lnspector General (OIG) has concluded its review into allegations regarding the accountability, accuracy, and oversight of the U.S.Park Police (USPP) firearms inventory. The accompanying report provides ample evidence that USPP’s firearms management requires immediate attention to address the multitude of problems we found, which ranged from fundamental errors in recordkeeping to glaring nonfeasance by senior command officers. We initially set out to determine if USPP could account for all military-style weapons inits inventory, whether USPP had intentionally concealed missing weapons, and whether officers used USPP weapons for their personal use. Our efforts to definitively address the allegations were hindered by a failure of the USPP property and firearms custodians to provide a baseline inventory and accounting of firearms. We found credible evidence of conditions that would allow for theft and misuse of firearms, and the ability to conceal the fact if weapons were missing. After detecting the accountability and systemic management and oversight failure of the firearms inventory, OIG discontinued its efforts to prove or disprove the allegations and altered our plan of action by reviewing USPP firearms management. As a result of our review, our report includes 10 recommendations that, if implemented, will improve firearms management. This report  further underscores the decade-long theme of inaction and indifference of USPP leadership and management at all levels. Basic tenets of property management and supervisory oversight are missing in their simplest forms. Commanders, up to and including the Chief of Police, have a lackadaisical attitude toward firearms management. Historical evidence indicates that this indifference is a product of years of inattention to administrative detail andmanagement principles. In 2008, we conducted an assessment of several aspects of USPP operations. At that time, we found a number of weaknesses in USPP’s management and operations that adversely affected the level of security at national icons and presented officer safety concerns. We also reported that Office of Inspector General observed indications of a systemic absence of management and oversight by senior agency officials that impacted the effective functioning of USPP. In our 2008 report, we provided 20recommendations for improvement. The recommendation regarding property management is repeated in this report.In 2009, we reviewed the firearms inventory controls of the U.S. Department of theInterior law enforcement programs, which include USPP. At that time, we found a disconcerting attitude toward firearms accountability within USPP. In particular, we found that firearms custodians were unaware of the number of guns in their inventory or of the origin of these guns, and that guns physically present were not listed on the inventory.We strongly recommend that immediate action be taken to establish a professionally responsible firearms management program in USPP. We have little confidence that USPP has the managerial commitment to carry out this effort without direct and frequent oversight from the National Park Service and OIG. We intend to conduct a series of reviews and inspectionsregarding USPP programs and accountability.”

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