Press Releases

Press Releases: Controller’s Office Finds 76 Guns Still Missing from Sheriff’s Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 20, 2023

CONTACT: Allison Steele, 609-220-6739

PHILADELPHIA – As part of the Office of the City Controller’s ongoing investigation of the Sheriff’s Office gun inventory, investigators determined that 76 of the 101 service weapons initially identified as missing remain lost due to insufficient records of their whereabouts.

The still missing guns include 71 handguns, four semi-automatic handguns and one shotgun. While the Sheriff’s Office indicated that many of the missing guns were properly disposed of after the initial investigations over the last three years, the Controller’s Office found insufficient documentation to confirm the previous statements.

During the Fiscal Year 2024 budget hearing with City Council and in media releases on its website, the Sheriff’s Office stated that all but 20 of the original 101 missing service weapons had been found. To confirm those statements, the Acting Controller conducted a follow-up investigation. However, the Controller’s Office wasn’t provided with necessary documentation to support the claims, leaving the majority of the guns still considered missing.

“There needs to be sufficient identifying information to confirm the disposition of these guns,” said Charles Edacheril, Acting City Controller. “This requires documentation to confirm weapons were properly disposed of, such as burned, or located and reported to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).”

NCIC is a computerized index of criminal justice information, such as criminal record history information, fugitives, stolen property, and missing persons. The NCIC system provides a computerized database that assists authorized agencies in criminal justice and related law enforcement, such as apprehending fugitives, locating missing persons, locating and returning stolen property, as well as in the protection of the law enforcement officers encountering the individuals described in the system.

The Sheriff’s Office reported that some of the guns found were given to retired officers and former employees with the department, including former Sheriff John Green. According to the Controller’s follow-up investigation, the former Sheriff should turn over the gun(s) assumed to be in his possession. If the retired employees cannot confirm possession or disposal, those guns should be placed in NCIC as missing.

“All unaccounted-for guns should be placed in NCIC as missing,” said Edacheril.

The original list of 101 missing guns was initially reported in November 2020. A follow-up review was conducted in August 2021 that accounted for 16 of the original total missing guns. The Sheriff’s Office provided sufficient proof for nine weapons as part of the most recent review, leaving 76 still missing.

In addition, the City Controller’s initial report indicated there were 109 weapons on Protection From Abuse (PFA) inventory list that were considered missing. The Sheriff’s Office made no mention regarding the status of the missing PFA weapons, at either their budget hearing or in their press releases. No supportive documentation has been provided to date that would change the status of the City Controller’s initial finding that the weapons are missing.

The City Controller’s investigations into the Sheriff’s service weapons inventory have included reviewing several documents and spreadsheets, before and after photographs of the Sheriff’s Armory, statements of traded firearms, and a review of the NCIC database.

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