Inspector Generals have been very busy in Washington these days. We turn now from the hard-working, often-ignored, occasionally-persecuted IGs at the Treasury and State Departments to hear a report from the Office of Inspector General about the U.S. Park Police. What’s up with the USPP these days, Inspector General?
An anonymous complaint led the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to investigate the management and supervision of the U.S. Park Police (USPP) firearms program. Simultaneous, unannounced inspections of unassigned weapons at USPP facilities revealed that USPP could not account for Government-issued military-style rifles. It also showed that its weapons inventory was incomplete. Incomplete weapons inventories undermine USPP accountability for all of its weapons, and allow for the possibility that weapons that cannot be located and may not be in safe keeping.
What? The Park Police have military weapons? And they can’t account for all of them? How many guns are we talking about here?
During our site visits and subsequent interviews with key USPP firearms program personnel, OIG identified systemic internal control weaknesses. Our review revealed that USPP had no proper accounting for hundreds of weapons. We discovered hundreds of handguns, rifles, and shotguns not accounted for on the official USPP inventory. As recently as April 2013, two automatic rifles were discovered during a firearms search for which USPP had no prior knowledge.
Oh, well, it’s not all bad news then. Sure, hundreds of handguns, rifles, and shotguns are unaccounted for, but on the bright side, a couple of automatic rifles appeared out of thin air, so it all balances out. It sounds like the situation is, shall we say, fast and furious over at the USPP. (That’s not just an idle pun – it turns out at least 198 guns were transferred to the USPP from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.)
We also found that individuals appointed to oversee the program, including senior command officers, gave only minimal supervision to officers and other program staff who had access to unassigned weapons. This report, following our earlier reviews in 2008 and 2009, underscores a theme of inaction and indifference by USPP leadership and a lackadaisical attitude toward firearms management. We provided 10 recommendations to improve firearms management and accountability throughout USPP.
Senior officials gave minimal supervision to program staffers? That sounds familiar.
It develops that the Office of Inspector General “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” as far back as 2008. “Indications of a systemic absence of management and oversight by senior agency officials that impacted the effective function of USPP” were also observed.
A list of 20 recommendations was issued, including one pertaining to “property management.” In 2009, the OIG came back and took a look at the Park Police inventory of property that goes “bang,” and found “a disconcerting attitude toward firearms accountability,” including custodians who were “unaware of the number of guns in their inventory or the origin of these guns, and that guns physically present were not listed on the inventory.”
It sounds as if those concerns were not addressed in the ensuring four years, because here we are in 2013, with Santa Claus dropping mystery assault rifles onto the bare shelves where all those shotguns and handguns used to be.
I don’t want to inject myself into what will doubtless be a very delicate series of conversations between the Park Police and the Inspector General, but really, fellas, keeping careful track of guns doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request in this age of high technology and gun-control anxiety. The IG report is filled with accounts of custodians who didn’t bother to inventory their weapons at all, guns treated with less care than the average small business displays toward its staplers, and supervisors who accepted verbal assurances instead of the required documentation. The report also concludes that the Park Police have been acquiring more weapons than they really need; one of the IG’s recommendations is to “reduce the USPP firearms inventory to no more than the minimum necessary” to properly equip officers.
Not to denigrate the important work done by the Park Police, or unfairly question the need for them to be reasonably equipped for their duties, but this report makes agency management sound like the Left’s political caricature of an irresponsible gun nut: cutting regulatory corners, buying a ton of weapons they didn’t need, and treating their weapons carelessly. Perhaps the government should get its own firearms paperwork in order, before demanding more from the rest of us.