Report: Park police got guns but no ammo or training

The vast majority of officers from the San Francisco division of the U.S. Park Police — one of five departments that oversee homeland security on Golden Gate Bridge — did not receive proper weapons training for more than a year because of management gaffes on the federal level, according to a new government report.

Ninety-three percent of Park Police officers did not meet minimum qualifications to operate pistols due in large part to a lack of ammunition needed for training sessions, a study by the Department of the Interior revealed.

After upgrading from 9 mm pistols to .40-caliber pistols in July of 2006, the San Francisco headquarters did not receive ammunition for the new weapons from the federal government until the second week of August 2007, said area Park Police spokesman Lt. Jeff Wasserman.

According to the report, a manager for the San Francisco office “repeatedly requested ammunition” from the Headquarters’ Service Division, “and even offered to buy it themselves,” but “their requests were continually denied.”

The holdup resulted from a Park Police national office decision to change from regional ammunition dispensaries, located in Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco, to a centralized branch that would support all three areas, according to Wasserman,

“Apparently there was a glitch in that transition that kept our department from getting ammunition,” Wasserman said.

Wasserman would not comment if the San Francisco-based U.S. Park Police office was frustrated with the lengthy delay in receiving the ammunition.

“Different people react in different ways in those situations,” Wasserman said.

Since receiving the necessary ammunition for the new weapons in August, more than 95 percent of the region's 53 officers are now properly trained, Wasserman said. While waiting for the ammunition officers were using their .40-caliber pistols, Wasserman said.

The report also charged that “deficient security” had also left such national icons as the Washington Monument and the Statue of Liberty vulnerable.

The ammunitions delay for U.S. Park Police officers was unknown to Golden Gate Bridge officials until Monday.

“Regarding this report, we’ve been assured that security has not been affected in any way regarding the bridge,” said Mary Currie, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. “We remain very confident with the status of our security situation.”

wreisman@examiner.com

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