LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — LAPD SWAT team officers allegedly used their status to buy specially made handguns and resell them for steep profits, according to a report that will be given to the Los Angeles Police Commission Tuesday.
Police officials opened the investigation only after LAPD Inspector General Alex Bustamante, who works for the Police Commission, raised concerns that a previous attempt to look into the gun dealings had been badly “deficient,” according to a report he delivered Friday.
The inquiry now under way is the LAPD’s second attempt to understand what happened to the handguns, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Because the initial investigation was lacking, little is known about the gun sales. Bustamante’s report, which will be presented to the Police Commission Tuesday, was based on the first, substandard inquiry and so could not answer basic questions about the allegations, including how many officers were involved, the number of guns sold and when the sales were carried out, according to the Times.
Bustamante’s report says the department’s current investigation is expected to be completed in about a month.
Suspicion about the resold guns first arose in 2010, when the commanding officer of the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division – which includes SWAT – ordered an inventory of the division’s firearms, according the report.
The officer responsible for conducting the count discovered that SWAT members — the unit has around 60 officers — had purchased between 51 and 324 pistols from the gun manufacturer Kimber and were “possibly reselling them to third parties for large profits,” according to the report cited by The Times.
The guns, which bore a special “LAPD SWAT” insignia, were sold to SWAT members for about $600 each, a steep discount from their resale value of between $1,600 and $3,500, the report said.
The officer conducting the inventory identified several SWAT members whom he suspected of being involved in the gun dealings and reported his findings to the division’s commanding officer, who relieved one officer of duty and notified the department’s Internal Affairs office.
But neither the officer relieved of duty, the others suspected of being involved, nor the officer who conducted the inventory were interviewed for the investigation, and no attempt was made to determine how many guns had been purchased from Kimber, Bustamante wrote, according to The Times.
Deputy Chief Mark Perez, head of the department’s Internal Affairs Group, acknowledged the initial investigation had been “hastily and not very well done” but could not explain why; the person looking into the matter was not available, he told The Times.
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