Philadelphia Law Enforcement Can’t Keep Track of Its Own Firearms

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posted on October 7, 2023
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Jason Murphy courtesy Flickr

Philadelphia Sheriff Rochelle Bilal has routinely blamed guns for the rampant criminal activity in her city, which has already seen 1,366 people shot this year alone, but a recent report from the City Controller’s office shows that Bilal and her office can’t control the guns that are in their possession.

Recent reports show that Bilal and her staff haven’t managed to account for nearly 200 firearms identified as missing in a 2020 investigation, which found that 101 service firearms and 109 confiscated firearms were missing from the office’s inventory. This is despite the fact that during a 2024 budget hearing with the City Council, and in media releases on its website, the Sheriff’s Office stated that all but 20 of the original 101 missing service firearms had been found.

Late last month, Acting City Controller Charles Edacheril sent a letter to Bilal detailing the latest findings.

“After reviewing the materials, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to account for 25 out of the original list of 101 missing service firearms reported in November 2020,” Edacheril wrote. “However, there is still insufficient evidence to account for the whereabouts of the other 76 service firearms and 109 Protection From Abuse (PFA) weapons reported as missing. [The] Controller’s Office therefore still considers 76 service firearms and 109 PFA weapons to remain unaccounted for.”

Consequently, Edacheril has instructed Bilal to try to account for the remaining 185 missing firearms as soon as possible.

“We urge your office to confirm whether the retired deputies either possess the weapons as assumed or have proof of their disposal, and thereafter to enter any weapons that remain missing into NCIC, so that this investigation can be brought to a conclusion,” he wrote.

For her part, Bilal said at a news conference following the controller’s report that the report contained “misleading statements.” She is blaming the missing guns on the controller’s office.

“If the controller would have done their job 10 years ago and audited that office, maybe it wouldn’t have been in that condition when I took office,” she said. “Maybe if they had audited it five years ago.”

Bilal, meanwhile, hasn’t been considerate of citizens’ Second Amendment rights. When the state legislature was considering a constitutional-carry measure a few years back, Bilal was an outspoken opponent of the reform.

“How would you be able to tell who can legally carry a gun and who can’t if you eliminate a permit to carry a concealed weapon?” she asked during a television interview. “You want everybody walking around the streets with guns?”

The latest missing gun revelation comes on the heels of accusations this spring over misuse of funds by Bilal. According to a newspaper report, Bilal allegedly used hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for something that would actually help curb violent crime—hiring additional sheriff’s deputies—to give hefty raises to her executive staff and other office workers. Reports indicate that she also attempted to more than double her own salary as part of a plan to give even larger raises.

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