Investigator: Police shooting range misfires

6:20 PM, Sep 19, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND - The Police Department is investigating whether guns and ammunition may be missing from the police shooting range after a highly critical audit found little to no oversight of the potentially deadly equipment, Channel 3 News has learned.

City auditors described the system used to track firearms at the secluded, department-run outdoor shooting range as "inadequate and incomplete, missing vital information," according to the 19-page report issued earlier this year.

Auditors also discovered that nobody was keeping an eye on thousands of rounds of ammunition. 

All of it, auditors said, opened the door for "theft or misuse."

"It's stunning," said Cleveland Councilman Zach Reed. "I would hate to think that one of the guns, some of the ammunition ... would have ended up in the hands of individuals who wanted to do harm to good people."

Police have opened an internal investigation into weapons and merchandise that might be missing, such as bullets, magazines for firearms, gun holsters, mace-holders, night sticks, and smoke canisters, the department said.  

"There was at the very least carelessness -- if not negligence," said Public Safety Director Martin Flask.

Auditors discovered that firearms "were not all (stored) in locked areas" and that guns taken out of the range "were sometimes deleted from the database, leaving no tracking or accountability."

"The firearms ... should be logged in and secured in locked safes," auditors noted. "Any firearm removed ... for whatever reason should be signed out on the armory log as removed, and again when returned, and the purpose noted."

Auditors noted that ammunition was "found loose, in scattered boxes and in loaded magazines," according to the report. 

It was also stored anywhere and everywhere -- even in the shower room. More than 800 magazines, many with live rounds in them, were kept in 25 different locations, the report said.

Sgt. Keith Campbell, who now oversees the shooting range, said police have developed a new inventory system to track existing firearms and ammunition.  Campbell has also put the guns and ammunition under lock and key.

Councilman Reed said a system should have been in place all along.

"If inventory comes in, you need to be able to track it," he said. "If inventory leaves, you need to be able to track it."


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