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Inspection of the Violent Crime Task Forces
in the Southern District of New York

Report Number I-2000-03



U.S. Department of Justice
Drug Enforcement Administration
Office of Inspections

Nov. 18, 1999

MEMORANDUM FOR:    Mary W. Demory
Assistant Inspector General for Inspections
U.S. Department of Justice

FROM:   Felix J. Jimenez Chief Inspector
Drug Enforcement Administration

SUBJECT:   Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Working Draft Audit Report:
"Review of the Violent Crime Task Forces of the United States Attorney's Office
for the Southern District of New York" (A-98-19)

In response to your November 3, 1999 memorandum, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reviewed the above titled OIG draft audit report and has the following comments.

As noted in the report, the U.S. Attorney's Office (USAO) processed a funding request in support of the DEA Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF). The Executive Office of the U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) review committee approved the request, and the U.S. Attorney's Office (USAO) contracted and paid for data analysts with VCTF funds. The funding proposal was submitted and funds expended in support of investigative work by the DEA VCTF as part of the violent crime initiative.

The report notes that DEA did not notify the EOUSA that the Housing Authority VCTF had ended. DEA disagrees with the OIG's interpretation that the VCTF ended in July 1995, and believe that this conclusion is based on the semantics of the funding document, not the reality of DEA's VCTF. While the title of the initiative submitted to the USAO stated "New York City Housing Authority Violent Crime Task Force," this was a descriptive term for the initiative, used to indicate the types of investigations that were being conducted in the New York City housing projects. This was never the official name of the task force and the Housing Authority Police Department (HAPD) was not the lead agency of the task force. The report makes the erroneous assumption that because the HAPD merged with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), DEA's task force ended.

The official title of the task force was the DEA VCTF. There was never a separate task force titled the Housing Authority VCTF, this was merely the descriptive title used in the funding request. The DEA task force functioned, i.e., continued to make VCTF cases in the housing projects, long after the merger of the HAPD into the NYPD. The task force continued to work the same types of cases with the same task force officers.

The report concludes that DEA should have notified the USAO that the task force had ended when the HAPD ceased to exist. However, DEA did not view this NYPD reorganization as having any impact on the VCTF, just as the withdrawal of the ATF and the Secret Service did not disband the VCTF. In fact, the footnote on page 5 of the report notes that the Secret Service withdrew in November 1995, four months after the OIG concluded that the task force had disbanded.

In reality, the VCTF continued to investigate housing cases after the NYPD reorganization with the same task force officers who were re-deputized as NYPD officers. DEA did not perceive the VCTF as having changed, so there was no reason to notify the USAO. In addition, the USAO was well aware of the reorganization of the NYPD (it was "front page news" in New York). DEA believes that the EOUSA interpreted the funding request in the same manner as DEA intended, which was to support investigations in the housing projects in support of the violent crime initiative. DEA believes there was no change in the operation of the DEA VCTF that would have prompted DEA to notify the EOUSA.

DEA appreciates this opportunity to comment. If you have any additional questions, please address them to Frank J. Chellino, Deputy Chief Inspector, Office of Inspections or Audit Liaison Marjorie Snider at 202-307-8200.