Philadelphia’s sheriff, Rochelle Bilal, has pushed back against a city controller’s report stating that her office cannot account for 185 guns, calling the report “misleading” and raising questions about its review.
In a recent news conference, Bilal disputed the findings of the controller’s office, led by Acting City Controller Charles Edacheril. The controller’s report followed up on a 2020 assessment that found over 200 weapons unaccounted for in the sheriff’s office, citing poor recordkeeping and unclear procedures.
While Sheriff Bilal claimed earlier this year that her department had located or disposed of all but 20 of the guns mentioned in the 2020 report, the controller’s recent assessment contradicted these claims. It asserted that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to account for 76 of the sheriff’s office’s guns and 109 weapons surrendered to the office.
The discrepancies included instances where guns marked as “found” were reportedly traded or burned, with insufficient documentation to verify these actions. The controller’s office still considers 185 guns unaccounted for and recommended reporting them to the police as missing.
Bilal countered by revealing that her office submitted a 159-page response in June, detailing the results of her office’s investigation. According to her report, 58 firearms were found, 20 remained missing, and 18 were presumed to have been traded or burned. Additionally, she identified three duplicate entries on the controller’s list.
Bilal raised concerns about the controller’s handling of the investigation and questioned why previous audits were not conducted five or ten years ago. She displayed photos of the department’s armory when she took office, highlighting the disorderly state of firearms and paperwork, suggesting that earlier audits might have prevented the presumption of missing guns.
The dispute between the sheriff and the controller’s office underscores the importance of accurate recordkeeping and transparency within law enforcement agencies.