Following an inquiry by the GUARDIAN, Boise police have revealed details of what they call “discrepancies in inventory control” for weapons slated for destruction.
Chief Mike Masterson said the investigation is still so fresh the internal affairs part of the inquiry has not been completed, but has been underway since late 2011.
Ada County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a criminal investigation of the circumstances. Sheriff Gary Raney told the GUARDIAN in a carefully worded statement, “There is not enough evidence to file criminal charges at this time,” apparently leaving the door open to further investigation and charges.
Here is the BPD version of events distributed to the legacy media:
In late 2011, a Boise Police employee who supervises the department’s armory discovered discrepancies in inventory control, specifically for weapons slated for destruction. The Boise Police Department immediately began an internal audit which confirmed record keeping procedures related to weapons marked for destruction had not been completed. Specifically, of 156 guns slated to be destroyed, required documentation to confirm destruction was lacking from 18 guns.
A criminal investigation conducted by an outside agency at the request of Boise Police did not result in criminal charges. During the investigation, the employee responsible for armory record keeping resigned. The department is now reviewing several major changes and improvements to the record-keeping process in the armory, with the expectation those changes will be implemented with the hiring of a new armorer later this spring.
“It was a department supervisor who found the problem. He and several others have been part of the process to fix it,” Said Deputy Chief of Operations William Bones.
“Anything that may mean a weapon has not been handled properly we take very seriously. We’ve looked and haven’t found any conclusive evidence these guns were not disposed of as they should have been. But the bottom line is the proper documentation to show they were destroyed isn’t there. I apologize to citizens for our failure to meet the high standards we expect in the Boise Police Department. We’re completing the investigation and taking steps to insure it won’t happen again,” said Deputy Chief Bones.
What are the weapons affected? The weapons involved are firearms that were slated for destruction by prosecutors, no longer needed for evidence and unsafe or otherwise unsuitable to be sold at auction. Weapons seized by police, if safe and legal, are often sold at auction per Idaho Code 55-403
How are these weapons destroyed? Once designated to be destroyed, procedure at the Boise Police department is the armory employee is responsible for the weapons destruction, most often done by cutting thru the metal with a commercial recycling saw.
Who’s responsible for the documentation? Armory employees are responsible for documenting the guns proper disposal, be it auction or destruction, per Idaho Code 55-403. At the Boise Police Department that is a part-time employee.
What happened to that employee? During the internal audit and investigation of armory practices, the employee resigned. The employee was hired for the part-time position in November, 2008, and resigned February 14, 2012.
Where are the guns? The BPD continues to investigate what did or did not happen to the weapons. They may have indeed been destroyed but lack the proper documentation to prove their destruction. Thanks to the internal audit, investigators have the serial numbers of the weapons involved where serial numbers could be retrieved (six of guns did not have serial numbers). So far, the BPD investigation has not found any evidence of the guns or gun parts not having been destroyed.
Investigations: In addition to the internal BPD audit and subsequent investigation, Boise Police requested investigators with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office conduct a criminal investigation. That investigation has been reviewed by Ada County Prosecutors and resulted in no criminal charges. The criminal investigation was recently completed. The internal Boise Police investigation and review are being completed and in the final stages.
Has the department taken steps to insure better record keeping? Yes. In addition to a personnel change, several employees using results from the audit and best practice research are reviewing several new systems for inventory and record-keeping improvement.
All City of Boise departments, including Police, are committed to rigorous performance standards and encourage employees and the public to assist in making our operations more efficient, cost-effective and accountable. The City has established mechanisms, including the Office of Internal Audit and the citizen Ethics Commission, to help ensure that potential problems are discovered and solutions implemented. The discrepancies in the Police Armory, and the steps being taken to correct them, are a further demonstration of that commitment.
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