The Miami Herald
More than two dozen semiautomatic rifles owned by the city of Miami Police Department are missing.
The prime suspects: The city’s own officers.
It’s not a matter of theft, however, but record-keeping — at least for now.
A strongly worded internal memo sent out to 1,400 sworn police officers Wednesday morning listed the serial numbers of 25 missing AR-15 rifles and warned officers that if the firearms are not returned by Monday, it could land them in hot water.
“Effective Monday, May 17, 2021, these rifles will be reported stolen…” the note read. “You are hereby ordered to return it to the Quartermaster unit immediately. Failure to do so may expose you to criminal liability for possession of stolen property.”
The brief note was headlined “MISSING RIFLES” and was sent out as an MPD [ Miami Police Department] mailer with no sender’s name attached. The rifle audit listed serial numbers of the firearms in question.
A department spokesperson said it’s just part of an inventory check in place since the city’s new police chief, Art Acevedo, came aboard just over a month ago.
“It’s not that unusual; we do it with the cars,” said Miami Police spokesman Michael Vega. “The chief told the quartermaster to send the note just because there are 25 officers who have to bring them back. You have to qualify to get one. But for some reason they have not been accounted for.”
It’s not the first time the department has gone on an internal weapons hunt.
Five years ago, 11 guns used decades ago for training cadets disappeared from the department’s property room. The search for those guns became a source of frustration for the department and led to a lot of finger-pointing.
First, Miami police said they were investigating the missing weapons. Then the president of the police union weighed in and asked the Miami-Dade State Attorney to take over the investigation because, he said, it involved the police chief. The chief, at the time, refused to comment. After a city commissioner brought it up during a hearing, it was decided that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would conduct an investigation.
The guns still haven’t been found. Or if they have, no one is owning up to it. The state investigation was closed without any finding. A source familiar with the incident said it’s likely the 11 guns were destroyed during a “purge” of old stuff in the property room.
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