L.A. County Sheriff’s Department loses M-16 assault rifle

Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore, seen in 2011, said Tuesday that the department losing a gun is embarrassing. "How could this have happened? Honestly, we don't know?"
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has misplaced one of its M-16 rifles, officials said Tuesday.

In an internal email sent to department supervisors Friday, Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers said the weapon’s disappearance was “embarrassing” and urged supervisors “to turn over EVERY rock to find this missing rifle.”

Department spokesman Steve Whitmore could not immediately say when the rifle was misplaced but noted that the department has been suspended by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services from receiving excess federal property because of the incident.

“I can’t emphasize enough what a big deal it is when we lose an assault weapon, especially one entrusted to us through” the Office of Emergency Services, the email said.


“It’s wrong. It’s embarrassing,” Whitmore told The Times on Tuesday. “How could this have happened? Honestly, we don’t know.”

Supervisors have been ordered to ask every department commander if they have seen the rifle, to check every vehicle and unattended locker and to document everything. Officials have the rifle’s serial number but because it’s an excess weapon given by the government, it wasn’t tracked as “acutely” as other weapons, Whitmore said.

“Every nook and cranny at the station must be searched,” Rogers wrote.

Whitmore said the department is drawing up new policies to ensure that it doesn’t lose any more weapons. Every time a person handles a weapon, it will be documented, he said.

“We need to get significantly better at this,” he said.

He then added, “We will find it.”