The U.S. Marshals Service has lost at least 2,000 encrypted radios and other communications devices worth at least $6 million, raising the possibility that criminals could be using them to access details about security and law-enforcement operations.
According to The Wall Street Journal,
agency officials were alerted as early as 2011, but are still struggling to track the missing equipment. The radios are valued at $2,000 to $5,000 each.
"It is apparent that negligence and incompetence has resulted in a grievous mismanagement of millions of dollars of Marshals Service property," a 2011 presentation by the agency's Office of Strategic Technology said, according to the Journal, which obtained documents through a Freedom of Information Act request.
"Simply put, the entire system is broken and drastic measures need to be taken to address the issues. … The 800-pound elephant in the room needs to finally be acknowledged."
The Marshals Service is responsible for guarding federal judges and federal courthouses, running the Witness Security Program that gives people who are at risk of being killed new identities and security, and for apprehending fugitives.
"This issue is in large part attributable to poor record keeping as a result of an older property-management system, as opposed to equipment being lost," Drew Wade, a Marshals Service spokesman, told the Journal. The agency plans to buy a new inventory-tracking system, he said.
The agency believes the vast majority of missing devices likely were given to other law-enforcement agencies or were disposed of without anyone keeping track. Agency officials say they are unaware of any instances where "public safety was jeopardized as a result" of the missing devices.
The Marshals Service said the missing radios were older models that were being phased out.
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