Review of Shooting Incidents in the Department of Justice

E & I Report I-2004-010
September 2004


    U. S. Department of Justice
Drug Enforcement Administration
Washington, D.C. 20537
SEP 1 2004
TO: Paul A. Price
Assistant Inspector General for Evaluation and Inspections
FROM: Michelle M. Leonhart
Deputy Administrator
SUBJECT: Draft Audit Report: Review of Shooting Incidents in the Department of Justice,

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reviewed the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) draft audit report entitled Review of Shooting Incidents in the Department of Justice. DEA provides the following comments as requested in your memorandum dated August 9, 2004.

DEA concurs with the recommendations resulting from this audit and will take steps to implement the recommendations or where appropriate, explore alternatives to strengthen DEA's shooting review program. As a federal law enforcement agency, DEA is periodically involved in shooting incidents. Although shooting incidents are an unfortunate but inevitable facet of federal drug law enforcement, DEA is committed to gathering and revealing all facts leading up to and associated with the discharge of a weapon by DEA employees and in assisting the state, local, and/or federal agencies having jurisdiction at the shooting location.

DEA regularly evaluates its programs, to include its shooting review process, and responds internally to correct noted deficiencies. OIG's review focused on the time period of fiscal years 2000 through 2003. During this time period, several improvements were made to DEA's shooting incident reporting process to streamline both the internal and external reporting procedures. These actions have had a positive impact and have strengthened DEA's overall shooting review process. The revisions are summarized below to supplement OIG's reported findings.

DEA recognizes that shooting incidents are serious and stressful events. A sound reporting system has been instituted to ensure that complete and factual information is reported incrementally by the field to senior managers at DEA Headquarters to capture the events of the evolving situation at the scene. The reporting process begins with a required, immediate telephonic notification to DEA Headquarters. For incidents declared critical shooting incidents by the Chief of Operations, developments at the shooting scene are transmitted via facsimile within six hours of the event to DEA Headquarters. All shooting incidents require a written summary of events within a 24-hour time period to DEA Headquarters, with regular follow-up reporting to DEA offices investigating the shooting incident as deemed necessary. The incremental reports allow DEA to effectively manage shooting incidents through ongoing communication.

A key step in the investigation of all shooting incidents involving injury or death of a human being is the notification of the event to the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division (CRD). DEA's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is the responsible office for notifications to CRD. OPR is informed of shooting incidents involving injury or death immediately following telephonic notification to DEA Headquarters. This action ensures consistent and timely reporting to CRD as well as OIG since OPR is also the point-of-contact for the OIG's Investigations Division. OIG found three incidents involving injury or death that CRD was not notified by OPR during the time period September 2000 through April 2002; however, no instances of non-compliance have been noted since 2002, indicating the improved procedures are effective.

Investigations of DEA shooting incidents are normally the responsibility of state and local investigative agencies in whose jurisdiction the shooting incident occurs. These agencies manage the crime scene, conduct the follow-up investigation, and are the primary source for much of the information that must be reported to DEA Headquarters. DEA's Office of Inspections is responsible for coordinating with state and local authorities and the ensuing shooting review process. OIG found DEA averaged 440 days to complete the shooting review process. DEA attributes the extended time to complete the shooting incident review process to its internal procedures and the assignment of the function as a collateral duty, as opposed to the length of time required to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident. Nonetheless, DEA acknowledges the length of time can be reduced.

Notwithstanding the time required to conduct a thorough shooting investigation and review, DEA employees involved in shooting incidents are eligible for promotion, reassignment, awards, etc. In 2002, DEA instituted a pragmatic method of reviewing personnel actions for subjects of active internal investigations. Personnel actions for subjects of active internal investigations are considered on a case-by-case basis by the Deputy Chief Inspector and/or the Chairman of the Board of Professional Conduct and/or the Deciding Official to make a determination as to the likely outcome of the particular case. If the investigation has progressed sufficiently to allow these officials to determine the likely outcome of the particular case, a decision can be made to approve the personnel action. Approximately, 50-70 percent of all cases end with no discipline assessed. Decisions regarding actions before the Career Board are reserved for the Deputy Administrator.

DEA's shooting investigation process is intentionally compartmentalized to ensure the results are unbiased and the outcome is deemed fair by the public, the agency, and the affected employee(s). Established policy and procedure further ensure standardization as well as proper, timely coordination with concerned departmental offices. Improvements to this process and policy will bolster the public's confidence in DEA and federal law enforcement, collectively.

DEA has completed a sensitivity review of the draft audit report. This information will be provided under separate cover.

Documentation detailing DEA's efforts to implement the attached action plan will be provided to OIG until all corrective actions are employed. If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact Audit Liaison Sheldon Shoemaker at (202) 307-4205.


Action Plan
Review of Shooting Incidents in the Department of Justice


3.A. Improve the consistency and timeliness in reporting shooting incidents

Action Planned
The Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) shooting reporting requirements are set forth in Chapter 6114 of the Agents Manual. Incremental reporting requirements begin with immediate telephonic notification to DEA Headquarters' Command Center, and at a minimum, a written summary report is required within 24 hours of the incident. DEA will issue a teletype to its field offices reaffirming the existing policy requirements to consistently and timely report shooting incidents.

Projected Completion Date: October 1, 2004

3.B. Ensure compliance with its CRD reporting agreements.

Action Planned
The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) will continue to serve as the responsible office for coordination with the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division (CRD) as outlined in the September 12, 2000 agreement between DEA and CRD. To further ensure compliance, DEA Headquarters' Command Center will modify its notification protocols to include the Office of Professional Responsibility on all shooting incidents, as opposed to only those involving injury or death.

Projected Completion Date: October 1, 2004

3.C. Consider changing the composition of the Review Board, and including outside members on its Review Board.

Action Planned
DEA Executive staff will consider modifying make up of the Shooting and Assault Incident Review Committee (SAIRC).

Projected Completion Date: June 30, 2005

3.D. Improve documentation of Review Board findings and recommendations.

Action Planned
In addition to SAIRC findings, the Office of Inspections (IN) will immediately begin to include recommendations, lessons learned, and other observations in SAIRC memo to Special Agents in Charge when deemed necessary by the SAIRC.

Projected Completion Date: September 2, 2004

3.E. Improve the timeliness of reviews of shooting incidents.

Action Planned
IN will begin scheduling SAIRC meetings every 90 days to improve the timeliness of shooting incident reviews. The next SAIRC meeting is scheduled for September 2, 2004.

Projected Completion Date: September 2, 2004