A scathing report from the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) claims that the U.S. Park Police (USPP) hasn’t the first clue how many guns it possesses or where they are and, furthermore, doesn’t really care.
This “lackadaisical attitude toward firearms management” leads to “conditions that would allow for theft and misuse of firearms, and the ability to conceal the fact if weapons were missing,” Deputy Inspector General Mary L. Kendall wrote in a memorandum accompanying the report.
OIG initiated its review of USPP’s firearms policies in response to an anonymous complaint that (1) USPP could not account for government-issued military-style rifles, (2) the agency had not conducted a weapons inventory because it could not account for all its weapons, and (3) some of the missing weapons might have been taken by USPP officers for personal use.
It took just five days of unannounced reviews of USPP weapons-storage areas for OIG to confirm those allegations.
“We discovered that hundreds of handguns, rifles, and shotguns were not listed on official USPP inventory records,” OIG reported. “Many of these had serial numbers that had not been submitted to USPP property officers for inclusion into the property management system. We also found weapons in areas other than their assigned locations.”
Although the National Park Service (NPS) Handbook requires agencies under NPS control, including USPP, to acquire only those firearms needed for law-enforcement purposes, OIG “discovered more than 1,400 extra weapons,” including “477 military-style automatic and semiautomatic rifles” and some that “fulfilled no operational need” — all this for an agency with just 640 officers.
USPP’s inventory controls are “incomplete and poorly managed,” wrote OIG. Inventories are conducted on a semiannual basis, but no one verifies that the contents of the submitted inventory forms are accurate. USPP could not supply a current weapons inventory to OIG because it was unable to access an Interior Department database. The current USPP firearms custodian maintains his own inventory document and is trying to bring it up to date, but given “numerous errors on past official inventory records,” he “had no idea how many firearms USPP possessed as of the date of our interview,” said the report.
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Photo of a Thompson submachine gun