Report Finds DHS Terrible At Keeping Track Of Agents' Badges And Guns

from the shrugs-of-official-indifference dept

Not really sure why we're putting the Department of Homeland Security in charge of securing anything.

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.

And these disciplinary actions will need to be preceded by rigid, standardized policies on handling of sensitive items. In addition, the DHS will actually need to establish a credible tracking system. The items tallied by the IG may only be the tip of the iceberg. As it notes in its report, it was unable to obtain enough documentation on nearly one-quarter of the items reviewed to determine whether the losses were due to careless handling.

These are the people securing our borders and playing an integral part in our national security directives. And yet they're leaving guns in unattended backpacks and leaving badges behind in restaurants and amusement parks. And the DHS doesn't consider this to be enough of a problem to handle with meaningful punishments or consistent policies and reporting.


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Nov 2017 @ 3:38am

    'a slight improvement' - is a nice way of saying they are still huge fsck ups.

    'his overnight guest stole his belongings' - read as hooker.

    'no disciplinary action' - I think we might have a lead on why they don't improve.

    DHS is protecting us!!!
    The problem is in exchange we are also protecting DHS from accountability.

    DHS has a hard job, blah blah blah blah blah.
    DHS agents are unhappy with the bad public perception.
    These are always isolated incidents, because they refuse to see they flow from a broken system.

    They have an important job, yet somehow we can't seem to demand they take it seriously.
    They are arming bad actors.
    They are giving them badges they can use for bad things.
    They somehow think they don't have to do what most of us would consider basic steps to secure important things.

    We need to demand much more.
    They talk about how DHS is our first line of protection, and we get Paul Blart Mall Cop.
    In trying to protect the image of DHS, they are giving cover to those who take actions that tarnish the image, in a nice self feeding cycle that makes DHS a laughing stock.

    We need to demand more, not just assume that the system works. How many more examples do we need before we demand better? Perhaps if we flipped the normal talking points and said 'if you let DHS screw up the terrorists will win!' we'd get better results. The we can't punish DHS or the terrorists will win narrative has failed us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Berenerd (profile), 2 Nov 2017 @ 5:02am

      Re:

      Don't you dare badmouth Paul Blart like that. He has more respect for the badge and his job than these people do.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 6:29am

        Re: Re:

        Sadly, you are correct. Paul Blart actually goes above and beyond the call of duty.

        CBP/ICE...Really, really don't.

        Unless the duty is abusing immigrants, civil liberties, and the federal budget.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 8:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Hey! I take great offence to that statement! We try to abuse everyone equally and that includes immigrants, visitors and citizens!
          - Bob the CBP guy

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      stderric (profile), 2 Nov 2017 @ 5:34am

      Re:

      How many more examples do we need before we demand better?

      Think they're not doing a good job? Well, when's the last time you heard of any Mexican rapist-murderers getting away with dealing in sports-franchise trademark violating underwear?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 2 Nov 2017 @ 4:42am

    "This includes current presidential faves CBP and ICE -- both DHS components."

    For those who complained when I pointed out the site is quite a bit far left of center.

    EVERYTHING in the article happened with President OBAMA in charge. All of it on his watch.

    But the digs at President Trump just *had* to be included - I only quoted the first of them above.

    She lost. Get over it. We had horrible choices, we picked the lesser psychotic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Berenerd (profile), 2 Nov 2017 @ 5:06am

      Re:

      Ummm, the current president is not Hilary. Please re-read what you quoted. "current presidential faves" Meaning, the CURRENT president likes these groups. Go back to your bigot loving life. Stop pretending you are being any more than a moronic troll.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 9:27am

        Re: Re:

        Well, the panda does not have a high metabolism and therefore may suffer from low brain activity due to a lack of nutrition ... needs to eat more bamboo faster I guess.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 2 Nov 2017 @ 5:20am

      Re:

      Have a funny vote for your kneejerk reaction/'Look, a distraction!'.

      On an article that mentions the current president once, indirectly and in passing, you focus on that single mention rather than the 'Oh yeah, by the way two major government agencies can't be bothered to track their badges and guns, and seems completely indifferent to this issue' parts, pulling both a 'But Obama!' and 'But Hillary!' in the process.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 2 Nov 2017 @ 9:58am

        Re: Re:

        Two, actually, if you count the comment about CBP.

        Not a distraction. If anything, the "in passing" slam at the current President was the distraction.

        Yeah, yeah, it's all Trump's fault. He got the report this bit is all about what, maybe a few days before it went public?

        A report of hundreds of Federally-Issued guns and badges that occurred BEFORE he was President, and that he didn't instantly do ... WHAT? Fire every (pensioned!) federal employee at ICE and CBP? Say "I take full responsibility!" (and then pretend it never happened, as anyone paying attention has heard and seen before from previous presidents from both sides of the aisle)?

        Yeah, it had to be pointed out in this debacle that we have a new president that isn't a Democrat.

        What's next, blame him for Fast & Furious?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 11:47am

          Re: Re: Re:

          “Leave president Cheeto alone!!!”

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 2 Nov 2017 @ 6:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Please be considerate of your fellow commentors and clean up the straw after you get done whaling away at the strawman you erected.

          That out of the way, mind pointing out where exactly the article blames Trump for anything? Simply pointing out that he's a big fan of the two agencies doesn't cut it unless you want to say that that's simply not true, and as such please point out where the article says 'Oh, and by the way this is totally Trump's fault'.

          In your rush to 'defend' him from 'unfair' attacks you seem to have jumped straight to the point where mentioning him counts, which is setting the bar low enough that you'd need professional excavation equipment to get down to it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      TripMN, 2 Nov 2017 @ 7:27am

      Re:

      One thing most people should know is that the non-White House parts of the federal bureaucracy don't change when the president changes. If there are reports of them screwing up under the last president, they are probably still doing it under the current one... its just the OIG reports haven't been compiled yet. Stating the fact that the current president seems to adore them just underscores that they probably aren't under any scrutiny to fix what has been and most likely continues to be a problem.

      But you knew that, right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 9:33am

        Re: Re:

        Sure, as does most everyone.

        However - there is this thing in human nature commonly referred to as chilling effect, it probably has other names as well, where employees tend to anticipate the desires of their employer before being pressured into doing this or that due to the not incorrect assumption that their job is on the line.

        But you knew that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 8:48am

      Re:

      She lost. Get over it.

      And other than point out that Obama did it too and Hillary lost, what has the orange dotard done to address the problems?

      That's right, nothing.

      He won. It's time for him to actually do something other than golf, no?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 4:59am

    I'm curious what the total firearms and badge count is for those departments (and the per year delta).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 2 Nov 2017 @ 5:32am

    Total mountain out of a molehill

    Bah, I mean it makes perfect sense that there's little to none(more the latter than the former) punishments being handed out, it's not like guns and badges could ever be used for nefarious means, like, oh I dunno, impersonating government officials to rob someone at badgepoint or access secure information/areas. Really, who could possibly want to do that?

    And guns just disappearing such that there's no record of where they are? What's the worst that can happen?

    The agencies are right to avoid spending much/any resources combating these 'problems', as they really are total non-issues and they have much higher priorities, like demanding social media information, and running a poorly/non-secured hotline for people to use to stick it to people they don't like.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 2 Nov 2017 @ 7:31am

    "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."
    Um... his guest. LOL. Idiot fell asleep with a hooker in the room. Dumb ass.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 7:34am

    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.

    Guess his "overnight guest" wasn't there when he woke up.

    Any bets this "overnight guest" was a hooker?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 7:37am

    DHS has been...

    from its inception, nothing more than a welfare program for the unemployables.

    Is anyone truly surprised by this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 7:52am

    They are too busy seizing Internet domain names.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 8:17am

    Civil forfeiture abuse makes this even worse

    By abusing civil forfeiture on a bulk scale, authorized government agents have created the perception that people who flash a badge can take your property with no practical recourse to the non-government party (whether citizen, legal immigrant, illegal immigrant, etc.). With that perception in place, it becomes very easy for unauthorized personnel using a stolen badge to rob people claiming "civil forfeiture" and it may well go unchallenged/unreported, because police robbing people is normal and legal, and this person had a police-like badge, so the victim assumes this is just more of the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 9:26am

      Re: Civil forfeiture abuse makes this even worse

      Civil Forfeiture cannot be abused.
      the definition for the word abused in this context applies the following...


      Abused

      "the improper use of something."

      since Civil Forfeiture was intended to create this exact effect, it cannot be abused.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 9:40am

        Re: Re: Civil forfeiture abuse makes this even worse

        Good Morning Sarah Sanders,

        How is your day? A bit frustrating I guess, having to spin all that stupid crap emitting from the orange bobble head.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2017 @ 12:39pm

    Fer sure.. leave a derogatory comment about those fucknuts and be the next statistic on that list.. I don't think so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:23am

    discretionary justice

    The judicial system with harsh penalties for even minor infractions, their discretionary application and faulty detection and reporting is ripe for blackmail, fraud and eventual collapse. This is what happened in France in 1789, in 1917 in Russia, in 1945 in Germany, in 1989 in Eastern Europe.
    So, US people, mind you - those pitchforks are really uncomfortable to fall upon, so maybe try to solve the issues before it comes to that. For everybody's sake.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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