A federal investigation is under way to determine whether some 500 weapons missing from a police department's evidence room are part of an illegal firearms-trafficking scheme.
The guns were discovered missing from the Cleveland Police Department's evidence room during an inventory last year, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives declined to discuss the probe, saying it is an ongoing investigation.
Court records show ATF agents recovered 112 of the missing guns while executing a search warrant at a Humble gun shop.
How can one avoid the conclusion that some cop(s) stole hundreds of guns and sold them to gun shops and God knows who else? According to another AP report:
Court documents connect Capt. Harold Kelley of the Liberty County sheriff's department and others to a gun-trafficking scheme. As custodian of the police department's evidence room, Kelley possessed one of two keys. The other key was held by Henry Patterson, who was serving at the time as Cleveland's assistant police chief.
In most police departments the evidence room isn't run by civilian professionals but more frequently by officers who cannot go out on patrol because of injury or disciplinary actions. Seldom are they sufficiently staffed to create meaningful systems of checks and balances, so repeatedly we see the same fact circumstances: Drugs, guns, sex toys, or anything of value stolen and sold rather than destroyed or returned to their owner. No state agency oversees evidence rooms, there are no standards they must meet. Basically anything goes, and particularly in smaller or less professional agencies, often where it goes is out the door.
See related Grits posts:
- Big D: Shopping Mecca
- Sex toys, guns walk away from Houston evidence room
- Nueces County cleaning up evidence room mess; how many others are just as bad?
- Police evidence rooms are 'red-headed stepchildren' of law enforcement, Integrity Unit told
- Galveston, Brazoria Counties react wisely by dismissing cases after evidence thefts
- Evidence retention failures thwart pursuit of innocence claims
- Enough weapons missing from Houston's property room for a 21-gun salute
- Profile of a Gypsy Cop