From [TechDirt] Between fiscal years 2014 and 2016, the Department of Homeland Security personnel lost a total of 2,142 highly sensitive assets — 228 firearms; 1,889 badges; and 25 secure immigration stamps.
That's from the latest Inspector General's report [PDF] on DHS components' ability to secure items that might wreak havoc -- ranging from inappropriate access to multiple deaths -- if left improperly secured. This includes current presidential faves CBP and ICE -- both DHS components.
The bad news is it's good news:
Although this represents a slight improvement from our last audit, more than half of the lost items we reviewed (65 of 115) revealed that component personnel did not follow policy or used poor judgment when safeguarding these assets.
The IG should probably not expect more year-to-year improvements, no matter how slight.
In these cases, components did not always hold personnel accountable nor did they receive remedial training for failing to safeguard these sensitive assets.
And I'm not kidding about loose components causing death. The report points to a 2015 robbery where something ICE didn't secure led to exactly this.
Even with new controls designed to strengthen the security of sensitive assets, lost or stolen Federal firearms continue to be used to commit serious crimes. For instance, a media article reported a September 2015 robbery in which an attacker killed a man with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) firearm that was stolen from an unattended vehicle. The ICE agent failed to properly secure the weapon inside the vehicle in a high crime area.
ICE in particular seems particularly careless with firearms.
Two off duty ICE officers left their firearms unsecured and unattended in backpacks while on a beach in Puerto Rico. When the officers returned the bags were gone.
An ICE officer left his firearm, badge, and credential unsecured in his hotel room while on vacation. As he slept, his overnight guest stole his belongings.
But take heart, those of you concerned about the border being overrun by non-US citizens. The CBP is just as terrible.
A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer left his backpack containing his wallet and government badge in an unlocked public gym locker. When he returned, his belongings were gone.
A CBP officer left his firearm in a bag at a friend’s house. When he returned 2 days later, the gun could not be located.
A CBP officer left his firearm and other law enforcement equipment in an unlocked vehicle overnight. The following day he realized his firearm and two magazines were no longer in the vehicle.
Actually, it appears CBP has been asking ICE to hold its beer, in terms of responsible weapons handling.
At a CBP regional armory, 208 firearms could not be physically located. The property custodian researched the situation, and approximately 2 weeks later provided documentation of the actual physical locations for each firearm, which included various lockers and storage vaults across CBP’s field offices.
At a CBP office, the property custodian was unable to immediately locate firearms from the inventory. After searching the facility, the property custodian discovered the firearms in a random file cabinet, stored haphazardly in boxes.
Yes, one CBP office was utilizing a gun filing system (using an actual file cabinet) that resembled just one of several horrifying finds in an episode of Hoarders.
Worse than the DHS's gun handling was its badge handling. Nearly 2,000 badges were unaccounted for, which means any number of people could be roaming around impersonating government agents. A couple of badge flashes from a 100% legitimate badge (in terms of origin, not current carrier) can help the holder obtain access to off-limits areas and/or personal identifying information on citizens/non-citizens, and otherwise abuse a borrowed position of power. On top of the incalculable costs, there's the tax dollars involved in replacing them at $40-75 a pop.
Things won't improve if the DHS doesn't start taking this more seriously. More than half of the cases reviewed by the IG ended with nothing more than a letter of reprimand… at the most. In 22 of the 65 cases reviewed, no disciplinary action at all was taken. [MORE]