Coordination of Investigations by Department of Justice Violent Crime Task Forces
Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2007-004
Office of the Inspector General
The USMS provided written comments to the OIG draft report in a memorandum dated March 9, 2007. In addition, as noted above, in a memorandum dated March 23, 2007, the Office of the Deputy Attorney General concurred with the report’s four recommendations on behalf of the Department.
The USMS commented on five areas of the report and on the allocation of fugitive apprehension responsibilities within the Department. We address each of these issues below.
Summary of the USMS Response. The USMS commented that the OIG’s review of eight selected cities is not representative of USMS task force coordination throughout the United States because of what USMS regards as insufficient sampling. The USMS noted that we included three cities that did not have Regional Fugitive Task Forces at the time of our review – Birmingham, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia. Instead, the OIG included information on USMS District Fugitive Task Forces operating in those cities. The USMS stated that it has District Fugitive Task Forces operating in 71 other cities and that these sites would have provided a “broader and better sampling of locations.”
OIG Analysis. We disagree with the USMS assertion that the report should have included a greater number of USMS District Fugitive Task Forces. Examining a greater number of USMS District Fugitive Task Forces would have significantly expanded the scope of the review beyond Congress's request and would have lengthened the time period for this review.
Pursuant to congressional direction, the OIG focused on USMS Regional Fugitive Task Forces and included seven cities with these task forces. However, we also included the activities of District Fugitive Task Forces in three cities for the reasons that follow. We included the USMS District Fugitive Task Force in Birmingham because a Regional Fugitive Task Force was created there during our fieldwork. We included the USMS District Fugitive Task Force in Philadelphia because it operates in the same metropolitan area as the Regional Fugitive Task Force in Camden, New Jersey, just across the Delaware River. We included the USMS District Fugitive Task Force in Las Vegas because a Deputy Marshal in Las Vegas is specifically assigned to assist with Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force investigations.
Nation-Wide Arrest Data
Summary of the USMS Response. The USMS stated that it disagreed with our report’s statement that “the task forces were more likely to duplicate another task force’s investigation than to cooperate in a joint investigation.” The USMS commented that this statement misrepresented the statistical findings of the OIG review of arrests made by the components’ violent crime task forces because the duplicate investigations represented less than 1 percent of the task force arrests.
OIG Analysis. Regarding the USMS’s objection to a statement that task forces were more likely to conduct duplicate than joint investigations, we note that the quoted material was contained in a working draft of the report, but not in the formal draft or in this final report. In the formal draft and in the final report we state, “Nonetheless, our analysis of arrests that were reported by more than one component demonstrated that the task forces were more likely to duplicate another task force’s investigation than to cooperate in a joint investigation.” This makes it clear that our conclusion represents only the findings of our analysis of 1,288 duplicate arrests.
The USMS conclusion that the 768 duplicate investigations we identified among the 1,288 duplicate arrests we examined represent all of the duplicate investigations among the 97,228 arrests made by the task forces is incorrect. It is based on the faulty assumption that, because none of the other 95,940 arrests were reported by more than one task force, none of the individuals arrested were being investigated by more than one task force. In fact, instances in which task forces had been investigating the same individual were reported to us during our review by Deputy Marshals and Special Agents. When such duplications of effort were identified, one task force generally ceased its investigation.
Los Angeles Coordination Example
Summary of the USMS Response. The USMS said that the OIG referenced a Los Angeles case in which the USMS and the FBI became involved in an investigation to locate a fugitive wanted for the murder of a deputy sheriff. The USMS stated that the manner in which this case appears in the OIG report implies a lack of cooperation by the USMS, which is contrary to the facts of the case. The USMS stated that if the OIG had contacted the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office or had reviewed the case files, it would have had a more thorough understanding of this matter that would have demonstrated the USMS’s cooperation.
OIG Analysis. The OIG examined the Los Angeles case because the USMS provided a written description of it as one of several examples of fugitive investigations in which coordination issues arose between the USMS and the FBI. The USMS description included an explanation of the role of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. We interviewed USMS and FBI personnel in Los Angeles about this investigation and confirmed that there had been a lack of coordination in this case. The USMS provided documentation of its coordination with local law enforcement on this case, but there were differences of opinion between the USMS and the FBI regarding who should have been the lead component in this investigation. Consequently, even if the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office confirmed that the USMS cooperated, there were still coordination issues between the USMS and the FBI.
Use of Deputy Marshal and Special Agent Statements
Summary of the USMS Response. The USMS stated that throughout our report references are made to quotes from individuals interviewed as part of the review that have little or no relevance to the issue of coordination.
OIG Analysis. As noted above, we included opinion statements from Special Agents, Deputy Marshals, and local task force members to demonstrate the prevailing attitudes and perceptions regarding coordination with other components. We asked individuals we interviewed for their opinion, and we presented the opinions in context and accompanied by the position, title, or duties of the person expressing the opinion. When individual statements related to factual matters, such as descriptions of blue-on-blue incidents, we presented comments from other individuals involved in order to provide a complete description of what occurred. The OIG believes the comments are relevant to the issue of task force coordination. These comments, both positive and negative, reflected the coordination efforts of the task forces in the cities we visited.
Adherence to Internal USMS Policy
Summary of the USMS Response. The USMS stated that USMS policy requires a district to obtain the approval of the local U.S. Attorney for USMS participation in any fugitive task force. The USMS also stated that prior to establishing the Regional Fugitive Task Forces, senior USMS managers coordinated with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and provided them with a mission statement for the task forces.
OIG Analysis. The USMS comment does not identify any disagreement with the report. We reported that the USMS put its own policies in place for coordinating task force operations, particularly the Memorandums of Understanding between the USMS and the DEA and the USMS and ATF. We also reported on the remaining coordination issues between the FBI and the USMS based on the operations of the six Regional Fugitive Task Forces and the FBI Safe Streets Task Forces.
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