PRELIMINARY PERFORMANCE REVIEW
OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
WEST VIRGINIA STATE POLICE
Issue Area 1: The West Virginia State Police Storage Facility for Ammunition needs improved Security and Fire Protection.
The West Virginia State Police is an agency in the Department of Public Safety which operates and trains in a military manner. The agency's training Academy at Institute (near Charleston) is responsible for training all state law enforcement officers in proper law enforcement techniques and the proper use of firearms. In order to properly train cadets and maintain the training of qualified officers, large quantities of ammunition are required. A July 20, 1999, inventory at the Academy found 800,800 rounds of pistol, rifle and shotgun ammunition stored at that location.
The building in which these rounds are stored is not secure. Keys are maintained only by three individuals but there is no record of who enters the building or what is taken out. Due to the large amount of ammunition stored, it stands to reason that the agency should improve security to protect the agency in case of fire or theft.
Academy Storage Facility
A visit by the Legislative Auditor's staff to the building used to store the training ammunition at the Academy found 800,800 rounds were stored in a room which is not reinforced in any manner. The door has standard locks, no security alarm or sprinkler system, and single pane windows without bars. The building is situated 150 to 200 yards from the main campus of the Academy and the entry door is on the back side, facing a wooded area, and out of view from the main campus. Some security is provided at night when students conduct a security patrol of the campus twice every hour . Interviews with Academy staff indicate that personnel are on the grounds of the campus 95% of the time. At times, weapons are also stored in the same room with ammunition along with cans of chemical munitions (smoke & tear gas). Private homes are within 100 yards of the building but a wooded area surrounds the back side of the range where the entrance to the storage room is located. The following links document the conditions of the facility
Interior of the room with ammunition stacked to the ceiling
Proximity of Houses to Range and Ammunition
(House and Range are highlighted with white squares)
Windows on the outside of the storage Room
In contrast, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco Georgia, stores ammunition in secure vaulted facilities with fire alarms, sprinkler systems and security alarms. A review of the regulations regarding ammunition at the FLETC indicates that they have a very serious concern for the protection of ammunition. The U.S. Army does as well with numerous regulations being dedicated to the storage and protection of this commodity. One Army regulation defines ammunition in the following manner:
"Ammunition. Includes, but is not necessarily limited to, all items of training and war reserve
Information requests to the State Police Headquarters regarding the storage and handling of ammunition revealed:
"There are no written polices regarding the storage, handling and accountability of ammunition."
National Fire Prevention Association
According to the National Fire Prevention Association's Explosive Materials Code there are no requirements regarding how a facility used to store small arms ammunition is to be constructed or maintained. A search of state regulations also produced no special requirements on how the building was to be constructed or how much small arms ammunition could be stored. Although the NFPA lists no requirements for building construction it does mandate that:
"Small arms ammunition shall be separated from materials classified by the U.S. department of Transportation as flammable liquids, flammable solids, and oxidizing materials by a distance of 15 ft (4.6m) or by a fire partition having a fire resistance of at least 1 hour."
The Chemical Munitions stored at the Academy are classified as flammable liquids and stored in the same room within fifteen feet of the ammunition. The State has adopted this portion of the NFPA code placing the State Police in violation of the State Fire Code. The Picture below shows how close the Chemical Munitions are in relation to the ammunition.
Chemical Munitions stored next to Ammunition
Material Handling Safety Data sheets obtained for these type munitions state that if burned additional hazardous gases may be formed, such as PHOSGENE. According to the Hazard Classification of United States Military Explosives and Munitions manual, fires involving these munitions require personnel to "STOP ALL TRAFFIC AND BEGIN TO EVACUATE PERSONS, INCLUDING EMERGENCY RESPONDERS, FROM THE AREA FOR 1500 FEET(1/3 MILE) IN ALL DIRECTIONS".
Although the potential for fire or theft may be low, the liability to the state could be high if a situation did occur. Improvements which would improve security, protection against fire and increase the accountability of persons having access to the facility could be made at a relatively low cost.
The West Virginia State Police and it's Academy are ranked among the best in the country. West Virginia also ranks low on the scale of crime, but problems with various fringe groups have happened throughout the country, and in West Virginia ( e.g. the conspiracy to bomb the FBI Building in Clarksburg). The security of the building used for storage of ammunition by the State Police should be improved to protect the troopers and citizens.
The facility used to store ammunition should be improved by adding a security and fire protection system. The security system should have a feature identifying the person entering the room through the use of a code. This also provides a computerized record of the date and time entered. In addition, the back entrance should be eliminated. A stronger door and lock system should be added in front within sight of the main campus. The current windows should be eliminated or bars added to prevent entry.
Issue Area 2: The West Virginia State Police does not Maintain Records Regarding the Use of Ammunition.
In order to train new cadets and qualify it's officers annually the State Police regularly use large amounts of ammunition. Current inventories of ammunition at the academy range where the majority of ammunition is stored indicate that 800,000 rounds are currently on hand. During Fiscal Years 1997, 1998 and 1999, $309,926 was spent on ammunition.
Despite the annual expense of over $100,000, the administration does not conduct regular inventories or maintain an up-to-date inventory of this commodity. No records are maintained regarding when and how the ammunition is used. State Police Detachments of various sizes are located throughout the state making it all the more important to have proper procedures in place to account for the distribution and use of ammunition.
Lack of Records
Through interviews and information requests the Legislative Auditor's office found that no permanent records are maintained regarding the inventory of ammunition the agency has on hand. Personnel do conduct inventories but these are used to determine when more ammunition is needed. Ammunition is ordered based on annual "in service training" requirements, incoming cadet classes and other requirements. The Academy Range Officer does keep a form developed by his office simply to determine for each class when to order more ammunition, but this record is not maintained for any length of time. Copies of purchase orders and the grants from the Governors Office of Criminal Justice and Highway Safety are maintained at State Police Headquarters. Personnel at the Academy conduct one to four inventories each year, but without balancing these inventories to an estimated balance on hand it merely determines if more bullets are needed and does not ascertain if there is any type of shortage. The State Police Headquarters responded to our inquiries about ammunition storage, accountability and inventories in the following manner:
"There are no written policies regarding the storage, handling and accountability of ammunition. All of our personnel are trained in the handling and storage of ammunition when they complete cadet training at the Academy. Since ammunition is an expendable commodity, specific inventory procedures are not required." ...... (emphasis added)
"Since ammunition is an expendable commodity, we do not normally conduct annual inventories to track the amounts on hand........" (Emphasis added)
The State Regulations regarding expendable property indicate that ammunition could be considered expendable. Paragraph 3.9 of the Inventory Management and Surplus Property Disposition Guidelines state:
3.9 Non-Reportable Property: Non-Reportable property is defined by the Purchasing Division to be those removable items, such as calculator, type writer, lawn mowers, etc., Items costing under $1000. Items such as a load of gravel, a skid of paper, a freezer load of beef, grass seed, etc., are considered expendable items and are not to be tagged and placed in the agency inventory. (Emphasis added)
The Federal Government considers ammunition expendable but reportable and goes to great lengths to account for the number of rounds on- hand. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia maintains records of all ammunition used. According to the personnel at that facility, 11 million rounds were fired on their range last year. FLETC has such stringent records that if 100 rounds are missing at the end of the day, the staff knows and works to account for those rounds. Personnel are accountable for the ammunition under their control.
In addition, the United States Army accounts for ammunition used by individual units on a world wide basis. Records are kept on the date a unit fired and the number and type of rounds used. Many U.S. military subordinate units are much smaller than West Virginia's 700 member State Police force.
Comparison of Inventory to Detachment Field Visits
The Legislative Auditor's staff visited five State Police Field offices and found an inconsistency with a July inventory provided by the Headquarters in South Charleston. (Only case quantities were reported in the inventory) No case quantities of ammunition were reported at Field Office 1, but auditor's staff counted five cases or 5000 rounds of 40 S&W pistol ammunition. Inconsistencies with how ammunition was stored were also found. All offices had a central locking cabinet or cage where ammunition was located. Most of these cabinets also contained weapons. However, at two of the locations, case quantities of ammunition were stored away from the locked cabinet. Field Office 1 had the previously mentioned 5000 rounds stored in an unlocked secretary's closet with office supplies. Office 2 had a similar situation with three and one-half cases or 680 rounds of 308 Winchester rifle ammunition stored in an office supply room. The latter had an outside entry door with a normal entry key lock.
Most Detachments have only small quantities of ammunition which are inspected on a regular basis. Officers are only issued additional rounds when needed. "Use of force reports" are required to be filed when rounds are fired in the field during an altercation or to kill an animal in order to account for all rounds used in the field. During the "annual in-service" qualification, rounds carried by the officer are fired for qualification and replaced with fresh. No form is filed or signed to say how many rounds were provided to an officer to replace what he or she fired or how much was fired for qualification.
Certainly officers and cadets should be provided ample quantities of ammunition to conduct firearms training to ensure the States police force is adequately trained. However, procedure should be improved to account for the use of the item. Regulations and procedures do not have to be as detailed and stringent as the Federal Government but should be adequate enough to account for the inventory on hand and the use of that inventory. The agency has regular inspections and Detachment Commanders must requisition ammunition when needed, therefore it should be a simple matter to adjust these procedures to maintain accurate inventories.
The State Police should begin maintaining records to account for the training ammunition fired and issued to officers. Training records should indicate the date, number and type of rounds fired. Furthermore officers should sign for new ammunition issued to carry in the field. A continual balance of rounds on hand should also be maintained and balanced against quarterly inventories.
Post Exit Conference Changes: The West Virginia State Police has made Significant Improvements Regarding the Security, Fire Protection and Inventory of Ammunition.
The West Virginia State Police has made important changes to address safety concerns found during the initial performance evaluation field work. An alarm system was installed at the State Police Academy where the bulk of ammunition is maintained. The system has a three-stage alert feature, individual pass codes and a smoke detection feature. This system also adds more accountability in that the date and pass code are recorded each time the facility is entered. In addition the Commander of the Academy intends to move the Chemical munitions to another building, away from the ammunition. These changes address the major issues of security and fire protection, with the exception of the lack of a sprinkler system. It is recommended however, that other changes such as installing bars on the windows and changing the entrance be made in the longer-term improvements of the academy. Below are links to photos documenting the installation of the system.
Portion of Alarm System Linked to Heat and Smoke Sensor
View of Alarm System, Ammunition and Chemical Munitions
Training Ammunition Policy
There has been no official change on the issue of maintaining records regarding ammunition inventories for the agency. However, The Commander of the Academy is working with his staff to:
"develop a more detailed system of tracking ammunition usage at the Academy. It is his intent to install an inventory record keeping system whereby all ammunition acquired by the range is added to the initial balance on hand, and all ammunition issued by or expended at the range is logged out, thereby maintaining a perpetual inventory of ammunition on hand."
These same actions should be taken throughout the agency to ensure that accurate inventories are maintained and to assist in the rotation of the ammunition stored at detachments.
The steps taken by the State Police have significantly improved the
security and accountability of the ammunition at the academy. The agency
should continue to make changes and improve the facility implementing all
of the changes recommended in Issues 1&2. Furthermore it is recommended
that the agency develop the system of accountability for the academy and
expand this practice throughout the agency. The State Police should report
back to the Legislature within a year regarding the status of the remaining