Forbes - IRS Weapons And Ammunition Spending Is Unremarkable Forbes

August 15, 2016 09:09 PM


Original article Here.

IRS Weapons And Ammunition Spending Is Unremarkable

AUG 15, 2016 @ 09:09 PM 21,335 VIEWS
Concern about IRS spending on weapons and ammunition has been a "thing" of late. I’ve been trying to take a closer look and my conclusion is that it really is not much of a thing.  Tracing back behind headlines like "IRS Sure Spends a Lot of Money On Guns and Ammunition" and "IRS Spent $10.71 Million on Guns and Ammo"  and "Why Does The IRS Need So Many Guns?" brings you to a report by a group called Open The Books titled The Militarization of America.
If You Count Enough Years It Seems Like A Lot
The report leads with the IRS noting that it has spent $10.71 million of which $6.452 million was on guns and ammo and $4.258 on military-style equipment.  Here is the part that often drops out of the headline.  The period covered is FY2006-FY2014.  Nine years.  As the report indicates, that works out to about $450 per special agent per year with a little more than half of that being on guns and ammo as opposed to equipment. Let’s call it $300 per year.
Now maybe you think $300 per year is a lot.  I used the occasion of my grammar school reunion, which included a bona fide celebrity who unfortunately has nothing to do with this story, to quiz my friend Patrick O’Brien, who had been Director of the Bergen County (NJ) Department of Public Safety and is now a town administrator about how the $11 million headline number struck him.  He told me that it didn’t sound like that much.  Bergen County cops have to fire off 100 rounds twice a year to qualify.  How much practice that requires apparently varies from individual to individual.  I wanted more though and managed to get an official statement from the IRS.

Executive Summary
The executive summary might be that IRS CI, unlike the rest of the IRS, are cops and cops need to be armed at least as well as the bad guys.  It is worth noting that  there are quite a few specialized federal law enforcement agencies that focus on particular areas of federal law.  The National Park Service has Law Enforcement Rangers, who wear the same uniforms as the historians and botanists, but are packing heat. When I was at Gettysburg, I even met a special agent of the National Archives.  I guess if you steal the Declaration of Independence, he’ll be the one to hunt you down.
Official IRS Statement
Anyway here is the official IRS statement.
Forbes_Peter_J_Reilly_image_4The Criminal Investigation (CI) division of the IRS is our federal law enforcement arm, comparable to the FBI or ATF. CI is separate from the civil side in both mission and methods. CI works closely with the IRS civil side and has a long history of significant criminal accomplishments in a nearly 100 year history, including high profile convictions of organized crime syndicates.
Today, CI focuses on national law enforcement priorities including offshore tax evasion, stolen identity refund fraud, employment tax, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, public corruption and terrorist financing.CI is the only federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction to investigate federal tax crimes.
Criminals in these investigative areas are becoming more sophisticated and dangerous, and law enforcement tactics have equally needed to evolve. With the rise of gang-related ID theft, Sovereign citizen cases and others, CI is again increasingly finding itself working cases with violent offenders. In these cases, with the approval of executive management, CI special agents use various weapons to safely and effectively work our investigations.
Handguns in law enforcement are typically employed in situations where violence may rapidly unfold with minimal or no warning. However, when entering into situations that are known to have the potential to evolve into armed encounters—as is often the case in CI’s enforcement actions—it is always safest to be equipped to respond with the most effective and efficient firearms platform available. CI special agents have been using such weapons throughout their history as they have consistently found themselves investigating the most dangerous criminals. They are trained in the proficient use of these weapons at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), just as over 90 other law enforcement agencies are. Special agents are required to requalify on their weapons twice a year, however quarterly training is the norm in order to maintain proficiency.
Law enforcement intelligence reveals that today’s financial criminals are becoming more violent, better equipped and more tactically savvy. At the same time, the types of crimes and criminals that CI is encountering show a much higher propensity toward violence. For example:
Identity Theft: ID Theft investigations are among CI’s greatest investigative priorities. These cases are typically perpetrated by gangs and violent criminal elements. These criminal elements have adopted ID Theft in lieu of violent crimes due to less severe penalties and less risk of violent encounters with police.
Sovereign Citizen Movement: The sovereign citizen movement is gaining momentum in the US, and US Attorneys around the country are asking CI to take an active role in addressing this growing threat. Although sovereign citizens may engage in nonviolent means of disputing law and the tax code, they represent an ever-increasing risk for violence against government authorities and law enforcement due to their intense rhetoric and aggressive stances with which they pronounce their beliefs. Many advocate for the overthrow of the US government and the FBI has classified the sovereign citizen movement as a domestic terror threat.
Terrorist Financing and Narcotics Trafficking: The vast majority of these types of cases are worked in conjunction with other state and federal law enforcement agencies. Due to the nature of these crimes and the criminals involved, the potential for violent armed encounters in these program areas is significantly more pronounced than in our traditional core mission case work. Since September 11, 2001, CI has played a prominent role in many investigations of individuals and organizations believed to be involved in or supporting international terrorist activities. CI Special Agents have been engaged in a variety of activities that involve national security matters such as conducting financial investigations and analyzing financial data of individuals and organizations suspected of financing terrorism. They have found themselves investigating some of the world’s most dangerous criminals. CI also collaborates with a number of U.S. and International agencies in efforts to defeat ISIS. Specifically, CI is working closely with the Department of Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence and Office of Intelligence and Analysis. We are also an active member in approximately 100 Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) and our agents routinely conduct financial investigations of these very dangerous criminals.

What Does Proficiency Cost?
I did manage to find a source who is pretty familiar with CI weapons policy to flesh this out a little more.  Agents have to qualify twice a year which requires firing off at least 50 rounds.  There are 26 field offices though and the managers of those offices are responsible for their agents being on the ball.  Many of them require the agents to qualify quarterly.  There was a TIGTA report in 2012 that expressed concerns about how followup was being done on agents who failed to qualify with their weapons
My source was unable to totally satisfy my accounting mind with more details.  Here’s the thing, it appears that every one of the 2,300 or so IRS CI agents has to fire off 100 to 200 rounds a year to qualify.  Nobody could tell me how much practice is required in order to maintain the required level of proficiency.  There is a reason for that. If you search the web for opinions on how much practice it takes to attain and maintain proficiency, you will find a wide range of opinions.  I was starting to despair.
Then I found a GAO report about ammo use by the Department of Homeland Security.  In 2009, DHS had spent $19 million to acquire 84 million rounds of ammunition.  That works out to $0.22 per round. The other little tidbit was some detail on border patrol agents.  The ammunition requirement for a new officer is 3,300 rounds which drops to 600 rounds for experienced officers.  That does not seem like very much practicing, but as I noted if you look at sites that advise on this stuff, you will see all sorts of answers including people claiming that it is a lot of dry firing that really makes you good.  Hopefully, I’ll spark a vigorous debate in the comments section.
My source explained to me that IRS CI special agents, although they are required to have accounting training like regular revenue agents are law enforcement officers who are expected to meet standards similar to all other federal law enforcement officers.  There are not that many newbies among them as the size of the force has been dropping through attrition due to budget constraints.
Doing the math at 2,300 agents firing 600 rounds a year at $0.22 over nine years I come up with $2.7 million.  That is a good enough bite out of the $6.452 million to make me think that John Koskinen is not building a secret army in the little spare time he has when not dealing with Congress.
Original Article Here.
Back to news
Sign the Petition