Monday, October 2, 2023

Philadelphia Sheriff Entangled in Firearm Discrepancy Scandal

While Philadelphia Sheriff Rochelle Bilal maintains that her department has accounted for all seized firearms, 185 of them seem to have inexplicably vanished. 

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Acting City Controller, Charles Edacheril, conducted an investigation and published a review, suggesting that around 200 firearms are either missing or untraceable, cited Edacheril attributed this to the disorganized record-keeping and ambiguous gun-handling procedures of former Sheriff Jewell Williams.

Bilal, in a statement on the Sheriff's Department’s website, pointed fingers at the previous administration for any mismanagement of firearms, asserting that under her administration, no weapons have been lost or misplaced. 

Although Bilal asserts that almost all firearms from the 2020 report have been located, a recent statement by Edacheril seems to counter her claims, stating that due to inadequate evidence, 76 firearms and 109 weapons are still deemed unaccounted for and should be reported as missing.

In Edacheril’s report, 46 of the firearms classified as "found" were either traded or incinerated, with scant documentation available for 36 of them. The report also disclosed that the sheriff's office considered 20 guns “presumptively found,” but no conclusive records confirming their disposal were provided.

In a press conference on September 21, 2023, Bilal dismissed these allegations and perpetuated the narrative of blaming the prior administration for the inconsistencies in recordkeeping.

Bilal's office disclosed that 18 firearms left the department with retiring officers, a practice legal under previous administrations. However, these firearms remain unaccounted for, raising concerns, particularly regarding one firearm allegedly in the possession of former Sheriff John Green, who was incarcerated in 2019 on public corruption charges

Since assuming office in 2020, Bilal's administration has faced numerous challenges, including legal suits by senior staff for widespread abuse and retaliation, arrests of deputies for allegedly selling weapons used in crimes, and controversies over financial allocations and unauthorized legal practices by her legal advisors.

Bilal, who campaigned with a promise to overhaul the Sheriff’s Office amidst years of reported dysfunction, seems to be grappling with numerous complications and allegations since her tenure began.

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