Philadelphia Sheriff's Office Scrambling to Find More than 200 Missing Guns

More than 200 guns have reportedly gone missing from the Philadelphia Sheriff's Department, an investigation has revealed.

A total of 101 service firearms and 109 protection from abuse (PFA) weapons have disappeared from the Sheriff's Office gun inventory since 2016, with authorities scrambling to find the missing arms.

City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart led a year-long investigation into the case after receiving a tip regarding missing rifles and shotguns.

"My office received a tip alleging missing rifles and shotguns from the Sheriff's Office's gun inventory since 2016, Rhynhart tweeted. "Our full investigation looked into all firearms under the purview of the Sheriff's Office."

"It's unacceptable that 210 guns that should be in the Sheriff's Office custody cannot be located," Rhynhart added.

My office’s Sheriff’s Office Gun Inventory investigation confirmed that 101 service firearms & 109 PFA weapons are missing. 

It’s unacceptable that 210 guns that should be in the Sheriff’s Office custody cannot be located.@PhilaController's full report: https://t.co/zxrzZMjZKm

— Rebecca Rhynhart (@RebeccaRhynhart) November 18, 2020

A letter from Rhynhart to Philadelphia Sheriff Rochelle Bilal, dated November 18, noted some concerning findings.

"Additionally, the investigation identified several issues with the overall management of the Sheriff's Office gun inventory, many of which stem from a lack of detailed, written policies and procedures," the letter read.

"Notably, the investigation found poor recordkeeping for service firearms and PFA weapons and a lack of formal policies and procedures regarding inventory management. Additionally, the physical inventory was disorganized and lacked policies and procedures. Investigators noted firearms piled on the floor and haphazardly stored in various locations, as well as instances of guns being stored loaded".

However, Philadelphia Sheriff Rochelle Bilal said the problem lay with previous administrations.

"They left us with a crazy mess as far as the sheriff's office and it's not just the armory," Bilal said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Sheriff Bilal also took to Twitter to address the issue, saying: "Many of the concerns raised were prior to my administration (January 2020). Under my leadership, we have combated many concerns in the report but moreover are currently still investigating the issues of the past".

Many of the concerns raised were prior to my administration (January 2020). Under my leadership, we have combated many concerns in the report but moreover are currently still investigating the issues of the past. I’ve been leading since being sworn in & will continue to-swiftly. https://t.co/rn0J9hRUpA

— Sheriff Rochelle Bilal (@rochellebilal76) November 19, 2020

Rhynhart agreed that many of the issues did pre-date Sheriff Bilal's administration but urged her to take "quick action" to track down the missing weapons.

Bilal said her office has "worked tirelessly" to implement policies and procedures to correct the issues identified in the report.

"I am pleased to report that there are new internal audit procedures, our office has been using state-of-the-art weapon tracking software, and a full review of the inventory of both PFA and Service Firearms have been implemented and completed this year during my administration," the sheriff said in a statement. "All weapons have been inventoried. There is a new day in the handling of this office's day-to-day affairs under my watch".

"The armory is now secure with state-of-the-art security cameras, motion sensors," Bilal added. "There are individually assigned entry codes to track specifically who enters and exits, at any given time, of the armory".

Investigators concluded that the whereabouts of more than 100 service firearms is still unknown, along with another 109 personal firearms that were either surrendered to, or seized by, the department.

"Our investigation did find evidence of trading at gun shops with city sheriff's office guns," Rhynhart said, adding that the situation was "very, very problematic."

Sheriff Bilal said her office will continue to work to locate the missing firearms and the investigation will continue to determine any possible criminal liability.

Newsweek has contacted the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office for comment.

Gun
A Colt Python, a .357 Magnum caliber revolver, set against the background of an American flag as more than 200 guns have been reported missing from the Philadelphia Sheriff's Department. Alfred Gescheidt