Coordination of Investigations by Department of Justice Violent Crime Task Forces

Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2007-004
May 2007
Office of the Inspector General

Appendix XIII
USMS Response
  U. S. Department of Justice
United States Marshal Service
Investigative Services Division
Washington, D.C. 20530-1000

March 9, 2007

Assistant Inspector General
For Evaluations and Inspections

FROM: Arthur D. Roderick, Jr. (Signature)
Assistant Director
Investigative Services Division

SUBJECT: OIG Draft Report on Coordination of Department of Justice Task Force Investigations

The Appropriations Committee directed that the Office of the Inspector General (O1G) assess the coordination of investigations conducted by Violent Crime Impact Teams (VCIT), Mobile Enforcement Teams (MET), Safe Streets Task Forces (SSTF), and the United States Marshals Service (USMS) Regional Fugitive Task Forces (RFTF) in the Conference Report of the Department of Justice's appropriation bill for Fiscal Year 2006. The United States Marshals (USMS) has concerns with the information in the report specific to the USMS, which arc described below.

The USMS feels the review of the selected cities is not representative of task force coordination throughout the United States for lack of sufficient sampling of cities involving USMS task forces to justify the current results of the OIG's review. Therefore, the USMS requests that the OIG consider extending the investigation to include a larger and more diverse sampling of cities.

Philadelphia and Las Vegas were cities used for the review but arc nor covered by a Regional Fugitive Task Force. As a result, they should not have been included as part of' this analysis. Additionally, the nationwide task force arrest data used by the OIG for comparison was drawn from Fiscal Years 2003 -2005, which should not have included data from Birmingham since the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force did not become operational until July 2006.

To determine a sampling of cities, the OIG created a task force locations matrix (Appendix I) which includes 256 localities. If the analysis includes USMS District Fugitive Task Forces (DFTF) such as Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and Birmingham, then the original matrix data and foundation for the inquiry is overly limited. The location matrix omits 71 cities with an existing USMS DFTF, which would have provided a broader and better sampling of locations for the research. Additionally, some of the DFTFs cover an entire federal judicial district, which in some cases cover multiple cities within the matrix.

On page viii, the OIG report states, "We concluded that the task forces were more likely to duplicate another task force's investigation than to cooperate in a joint investigation.” This statement misrepresents the statistical findings of the OIG's review of 95,228 arrests made by the components for Fiscal Years 2003 -2005, where only 768 (less than 1%) were found to have duplicate investigations.

On page 54, reference is made to a Los Angeles case where the USMS and FBI became involved in an investigation to locate a fugitive wanted for the murder of a deputy sheriff. The manner in which this case appears in the OIG report implies a lack of cooperation between the agencies. The report states, "The Regional Fugitive Task Force determined that the fugitive was the subject of an FBI federal warrant, so the USMS advised the District Attorney's Office that, because of the FBI's federal warrant, the Regional Fugitive Task Force would not investigate." It should be noted that after the District Attorney's Office notified the FBI by letter that their assistance was no longer required, the USMS initiated an investigation as to the whereabouts of the fugitive. We feel that the inference within the OIG report of a lack of cooperation is contrary to the actual facts of the case. The USMS feels that additional investigation by the OIG, an interview with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, and a review of the investigative case files would have provided a more thorough analysis and understanding of this matter, and demonstrated cooperation.

Throughout the draft report references are made to quotes from individuals interviewed as part of the inspection. USMS recommends that all quotes and statements (i.e. FBI Special Agent comments on page 57) be removed from this report as they have little or no relevance to the issue of coordination.

The USMS also recommends that the OIG and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) review the findings of the DOJ Fugitive Apprehension Report, dated September 14, 2004. The report was prepared in response to an FY 2004 Appropriations Committee request, and states the following:

"The Department of Justice recognizes the need to utilize the resources and specialties of other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in a coordinated and comprehensive manner. The Department of Justice recognizes the importance of eliminating duplicative functions and providing state and local law enforcement a single point of contact for specific investigative matters. The Department of Justice has designated the FBI as the coordinating agency in combating terrorism, through its Joint Terrorism Task Force. Likewise the USMS has been designated as the lead agency for coordinating fugitive investigations that are conducted through RFTF and district managed task forces, except in those fugitive cases where another agency has been designated as the lead investigative agency."

In accordance with the above statement from the Department of Justice report to Congress on fugitive apprehension, the USMS believes the ODAG should consider issuing formal guidance that SSTF should only act as the lead agency on state and local fugitive cases for investigation that originate from within an SSTF.

The OIG report states that "as a result of the lack of Department policies requiring coordination, the components' coordination of task force investigations was inadequate. Some components created nationwide policies on coordinating task force operations, while others did note make significant efforts to coordinate task force operations with other Department components. ATF, DEA and USMS headquarters mangers made some effort to require their task forces to coordinate their operations with other components."

In accordance with USMS policy, district must obtain the approval of the local U. S. Attorney for USMS participation in any task force which targets the apprehension of state and or local fugitives. Additionally, prior to the establishment of the six (6) USMS Regional Fugitive Task Forces, senior managers from the USMS coordinated with the U.S. Attorney Offices, and provided them with a mission statement for the task force.

The Investigative Services Division (ISD) of the USMS appreciates the opportunity to comment on the findings and draft report. We look forward to working with the Office of the Inspector General as part of future endeavors.

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