Review of Shooting Incidents in the Department of Justice
E & I Report I-2004-010
On August 9, 2004, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) sent copies of the draft report to the United States Marshals Service (USMS) with a request for written comments. The USMS responded to the OIG in a memorandum dated September 7, 2004, and concurred with all of the recommendations. Our analysis of the USMS's response follows.
Recommendation 5A: Streamline the shooting incident reporting system to improve the consistency and timeliness in reporting shooting incidents.
Summary of USMS Response. The USMS agreed with the recommendation and has implemented procedural changes to improve the consistency and timeliness of shooting incident reports. Specifically, the Chief, USMS Communications Center, will forward all Significant Incident Reports involving shooting incidents to the Office of Inspections. These reports will contain sufficient information to make decisions on the necessity, type, and complexity of subsequent investigations.
Status of Recommendation. Recommendation 5A is Resolved - Open. The actions planned by the USMS are responsive to the recommendation. We will close this recommendation when the USMS provides copies of the Significant Incident Report Forms on the next six USMS shooting incidents.
Recommendation 5B: Establish a formal reporting relationship with the Civil Rights Division (CRD).
Summary of USMS Response. The USMS agreed with the recommendation and acknowledged its responsibility and intent to establish a formal reporting relationship with the CRD. The USMS explained that in the past, the USMS relied on the OIG Investigations Division to report shooting incidents to the CRD and provided a case example as supporting evidence of this practice.
Status of Recommendation. Recommendation 5B is Resolved - Open. The actions planned by the USMS are responsive to the recommendation. We will close this recommendation when the USMS provides a copy of the document formalizing the agreement with the CRD.
Recommendation 5C: Consider including outside members on the USMS Shooting Review Board.
Summary of USMS Response. The USMS agreed with the recommendation and will consider including outside members on future Review Boards, but stated that the use of criminal investigations conducted by state and local law enforcement agencies provides sufficient objectivity for accurate and objective analysis.
Status of Recommendation. Recommendation 5C is Resolved - Open. The action planned by the USMS is responsive to the recommendation. We will close this recommendation when the USMS provides a copy of the document recording management's decision regarding the inclusion of outside members on the Review Board.
COMMENTS ON THE FINDINGS OF THE REVIEW
The USMS provided additional information on four of the findings made in the report.
Summary of USMS Response. The USMS stated that its Review Board considers what occurred at the moment the Deputy Marshal discharged his or her weapon and the actions of the Deputy Marshal before discharging his or her firearm to determine if the use of deadly force was reasonable.
OIG Analysis. We did not state that the USMS Review Board did not consider the moment the Deputy Marshal discharged his or her weapon, but rather that the Review Board also considered the circumstances leading to the incident and the reasonableness of the Deputy Marshal's use of deadly force in light of those circumstances. The USMS confirmed this by stating in its response:
In its deliberations, the USMS Shooting Review Board considers the following: At the time the Deputy U.S. Marshal discharged his or her weapon, did the Deputy have a reasonable belief that the Deputy or another person was in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury from the person who was the subject of the deadly force? The answer to this question may depend on what the Deputy did before discharging his or her firearm, and the USMS does take that into account.
Summary of USMS Response. The USMS stated that it did not intend to prohibit the Training Academy's Review Board member from discussing the facts of shooting incidents with other instructors at the Academy. The USMS reported that its policy, which does prohibit Review Board members from disclosing Board deliberations, was not intended to prevent Training Academy instructors from utilizing the facts of shooting incidents in training.
OIG Analysis. Our review found that it was the understanding of the Training Academy Review Board member that he was prohibited from disclosing the facts of specific shooting incidents. We agree with the USMS that this interpretation of the USMS policy should be corrected and shooting incident examples should be utilized in training.
Summary of USMS Response. The USMS reported that it did ask the FBI, the DEA, and other law enforcement agencies for information on vehicle containment and that the DEA provided the USMS with a training video.
OIG Analysis. We acknowledge that the USMS gathered information related to vehicle containment from other components and found that the DEA technique for vehicle containment may not always be appropriate for a USMS fugitive investigation. However, the USMS has not provided any information on its efforts to develop vehicle containment techniques that are appropriate for USMS fugitive investigations and its efforts to train Deputy Marshals in those techniques. As we noted in the report, the purpose of aggregating data is to identify problems and long-term trends so that components can proactively test and implement new tactical techniques.
Summary of the USMS Response. The USMS stated that its decision to create an Office of Inspections, prepare summaries of shooting incidents for all operations personnel, and hold Review Board meetings every three months was not based on the OIG's review.
OIG Analysis. In our report, we noted that during our review the USMS created the Office of Inspections, began to prepare shooting summaries, and began holding quarterly Review Board meetings. We did not state that the USMS took the actions in response to our review. It is our standard practice to acknowledge ongoing efforts of components to improve operations related to our reviews.