An inventory audit of the University of Oregon Police Department’s firearms found that UOPD is not complying with federal rules regarding the classification of TASERs as firearms and UOPD does not have acquisition records for 18 of the 121 firearms purchased since the department’s inception.
The audit, which was completed in May by the university’s Office of Internal Audit, found that UOPD is not in compliance with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ regulations for TASERS. The ATF, which enforces federal gun laws, classifies TASERS as firearms, while UOPD does not.
As a result, TASERS are not included in UOPD’s “firearm inventory processes,” are not tracked in the same database as other firearms and are subject to different department policies, according to the audit.
The audit recommended that UOPD’s management “include TASERS in all current and future Firearms inventory policies and procedures” to comply with ATF rules. UOPD agreed with the audit’s recommendation, saying that TASERS “will be incorporated into current and future UOPD policies and procedures that govern the management of Firearms.”
In a statement, UO spokesperson Kay Jarvis said that UOPD “had classified the TASER as a firearm” and “the policy manual will still address the TASER and firearms in separate policies as their functions are different, but in the TASER policy the definition will be altered.”
Jarvis said that UOPD is “on schedule to complete all recommendations by the Jan. 1, 2020 deadline.”
UOPD Chief Matthew Carmichael said in a statement that the department holds itself “to the highest industry professional standards” and said the department is “always looking for ways to improve,” so he asked the Office of Internal Audit to conduct an independent review.
“Our department will implement the audit recommendations throughout the 2019-20 fiscal year, and in doing so exceed the standards of most law enforcement agencies in the U.S.,” Carmichael said.
In addition to being out of compliance with federal rules, the audit also found that some of the department’s firearms lack acquisition records. Of the 121 firearms UOPD acquired since 2012, 18 did not have records documenting their acquisition.
Of the 18 firearms for which acquisition records could not be identified, 14 were “traded in for credit,” three were “converted from evidence to agency use,” and one is issued to a UOPD officer. The audit stated that the firearms without purchase records had been in the department’s inventory since the previous police chief and UOPD saw a complete staff turnover since that time.
The audit found that “all firearms purchased by the UOPD are accurately accounted for” and that 24 of the 41 officers the department employs carry firearms.
UOPD currently possesses 87 firearms and acquired 121 since 2012. UOPD returned 10 firearms and traded 24 in for credit between 2012 and the present.
The audit found that of the 87 firearms currently owned by UOPD, three “cannot be tied to a purchase record” and two firearms are connected to purchase records that have incorrect serial numbers. The audit stated that the serial numbers in the UOPD’s database are correct, but the serial numbers from the vendors’ invoices are incorrect.
The Office of Internal Audit also found there is no paper trail documenting the possession of four of the 87 firearms UOPD currently owns. The audit found that four firearms currently in UO’s possession were converted from evidence or the department received them from court forfeiture, but that “there is no record of this process, or documentation of the conversion taking place.”
Jarvis said that the converted firearms are only used for training and not for day-to-day operations. Jarvis also said that UOPD plans to create a computerized tracking system for firearms.
The Office of Internal Audit recommended that UOPD’s management implement “an effective and efficient purchase and record retention process, and work with FASS [Finance and Administration Shared Services] on potential solutions.”
The Office also recommended that UOPD management “should create and maintain records for any and all Firearms that have been converted from evidence to agency use” and verify the serial numbers of firearms purchased by the department.
Emily Goodykoontz and Zack Demars contributed reporting to this story.