“I have no tolerance for this management failure,” Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a statement. “The safety and security of our visitors and employees remain our highest priority.”
Problems uncovered by the inspector general include two officers who took guns home without permission, including a semiautomatic rifle present during the presidential inauguration in January. The report also found that a former chief kept his department-issued sidearm for 10 years after retirement without anyone noticing.
The Park Police report from the Office of the Inspector General.
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Investigators concluded that the Park Police not only can’t keep track of the guns it has but it hasn’t disposed of guns more suited for collectors than lawmen. The agency still has 20 M1 Garand rifles, the standard field gun in World War II, and four Prohibition-era tommy guns. The inspector general noted that these weapons are of “limited” use.
The Park Police has about 600 officers deployed primarily in Washington, New York City and San Francisco. They patrol Park Service property, including the Mall and many of the District’s national monuments and parkland. Their jurisdiction includes vast areas of downtown Washington and some of the busiest tourist attractions in the country.
Five years ago, the inspector general chastised the agency for failing to “adequately perform” its two stated missions — functioning as an urban police department while protecting national heritage centers. The review found officers to have low morale, lack of confidence in command and an inability to keep its fiscal affairs in order.
In the latest report, investigators tried to examine allegations that the Park Police could not account for a cache of military-style rifles, that inventories were incomplete and that some guns had been taken by officers for personal use. But the task was difficult, according to the report, because staff from the chief down to officers “had no clear idea of how many weapons they maintained due to incomplete and poorly managed inventory controls.”
Park Police guns turned up in odd places. In 2011, former police chief Robert Langston, who retired in 2001, showed up at a firearms qualification course for former law enforcement officers, according to the report. Running the course was a former Park Police officer who had been a member of the department’s special weapons and tactics team. He also was an inspector general in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The official noticed that Langston’s handgun belonged to the Park Police, the report said. He seized the weapon and returned it to the agency. Current Park Police officials could not explain how the former chief kept his gun, which was “unaccounted for on inventories that followed his retirement,” according to the report.
Langston did not return a phone call seeking comment.