DPS Audit Of DES Raises Questions, Provides Few Answers

A version of an audit of the Department of Economic Security’s weapons and ammunition was released on Friday afternoon. The Department of Public Safety was tasked with performing the audit in November 2016, by Governor Doug Ducey.

The Governor ordered the audit in response to claims that Department of Economic Security (DES) personnel were stockpiling weapons and ammunition. The governor relied on those claims to terminate the employment of DES Director Tim Jeffries, Chief Accountability Officer Juan Arcellana, Chief Human Resources Officer Morris Greenidge, and Security Operations Administrator Charles Loftus the day before Thanksgiving 2016.

Nearly 7 months after DES interim Inspector General Dennis Young advised multiple people that the audit was complete and found the claims to be baseless, the audit released on Friday included the finding that ammunition was purchased in violation of state law and an “excessive” amount of ammunition had been procured.

In recorded conversations, Young stated that the newspaper reports were blown out of proportion. Young stated that investigators found that DES officials namely, Mr. Charles Loftus, had not accumulated as much ammunition as he could have to ensure the proper training of DES employees.

While the request for records from the Arizona Daily Independent’s attorney, Chuck Johnson, included all versions of the audit, only one dated June 26, 2017 was released. The draft audits had been sought due to the admission by former DES interim director Henry Darwin that the initial version had laid blame for procurement lapses on the shoulders of Loftus, which Darwin believed to be “possibly inaccurate.”

Soon after writing that email, Darwin left the Ducey administration and went to work for the Trump administration.

DES “stash” of weapons. [Photos from DPS]
It is unknown how many versions of the audit were generated. What is known is that the auditor never interviewed Jeffries and included statements attributed to witnesses, who now deny they ever made the statements. What is also known is that the auditor makes claims about records and other documents that conflict with the records included in the audit.

Loftus, who is currently in Israel training ASU students in counter-terrorism tactics, is surprised by the sloppy audit and baseless claims. He characterized the findings as a “myopic analysis” in regards to the amount of ammunition allotted per employee. The audit concluded that the Department had 2000 rounds of ammunition per security staff member. That allocation would be “per armed employee at the time,” responded Loftus by email. However, 12 new security staff members were to begin work the Monday following his termination “With 12 more armed employees, within 90 days 50 more armed employees were to be hired, and procurement time was in excess of 60 days from request to delivery. This analysis is very deceptive and certainly a dishonest method of reporting any type of investigation,” explained Loftus. “The standard of 500 rounds per year is for in-service training and evaluation, not new hires. There is no minimum ammunition standard for new hire armed security officers, some can meet standards with 500 rounds, some take much more training as much as 1500 rounds. There is no method of testing new employees with firearms skills until they are hired and they are sent to the range for qualification. All 72 armed guards were new hires, the 500 round standard is applicable to a be minimum for continued annual training.”

The audit reports that interim assistant chief Inspector General Carlos Contreras made the claim that he and Loftus talked Jeffries out of a scheme to arm every DES employee. Not only does Jeffries deny that he ever wanted every employee armed, but both Contreras and Jeffries deny that the conversation ever occurred.

According to the audit, Contreras also claimed that Jeffries “wanted to create his own police force that he would control.” However, under Arizona law, DES does have its own police force. There was absolutely no reason to create a new one. Jeffries and Loftus had sought to professionalize the force, and replace contract security guards with state employees.

Among the other more bizarre claims in the audit is that of the 55 handguns purchased for 28 armed security officers and 23 sworn law enforcement personnel, three were carried by Jeffries, Collier and Arcellana. The auditor found that the men carried the firearms while on duty even though their “assignments did not require them to be armed.” The auditor concluded, “It should be noted that by carrying firearms while on-duty in any capacity as an employee of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Tim Jeffries, Clark Collier, and Jay Arcellana were in direct violation of DES policies regarding the carrying of firearms.”

Audit Finding:

“For clarification, a person with LEOSA certification is a retired, or otherwise former, sworn law enforcement officer in good standing, who has maintained his or her firearms qualifications, administered by a certified firearms instructor (in Arizona the firearms instructor would be AZPOST certified).”

Yet according to Collier, “I was never interviewed in regards to this audit. Had I been interviewed, I would have gladly sworn under oath that I never, not once, carried a firearm at DES or any other state facility, even though I did in fact have my LEOSA certification. I had been issued a handgun, but did not want to carry it until policy was in place and all the i’s were dotted and t’s crossed. In addition, I didn’t even know where the ammo was stored, much less use any of it. The only time I used DES ammo was to qualify to be able to carry a weapon in the future with my LEOSA certification. Oh, and it was at the direction and approval of Chief Azbil, who qualified me.”

Loftus says he “never saw Jeffries carrying a pistol.”

Jeffries said in an interview with the Arizona Capitol Times that the assertion he sought his own police force is “absolutely false. It’s a lie and it’s beyond realistic.” He also denied carrying a firearm while working at DES, and instead said he only tested the firearm to immerse himself in the experiences of his security staff.

The auditor found that ammunition purchases “circumvented” and the system. While the auditor noted that there was no way to ascertain who circumvented the system, he concluded that “there would not be any reason to go to the trouble of circumventing the contract unless one was attempting to evade detection and scrutiny from the State Procurement Office. This would suggest whomever is responsible for failing to utilize the state ammunition contract did so to conceal the purchases from those within the State Procurement Office who might question so many, and such large, ammunition purchases.”

The procurement process is rigid, according to Loftus. As a result, it would be almost impossible for anyone outside the Procurement Department to circumvent the process. In the case of the ammunition, the procurement was sent to Arcellana’s office and then to Procurement. The DES Procurement Department then sources the items according to policy. The requestors are removed from the procurement process. DES Procurement will contact the requestor to verify a specific product is acceptable. I was told that all the vendors were on state contract, it was a total surprise and I find it very perplexing that any ammo purchased through procurement was outside contract.”

In fact, “the selection of vendors was entirely up to a woman in Procurement, who had purchased ammunition from the allegedly illegal vendor when she worked for the Arizona Department of Corrections’ Procurement Department,” Loftus told the ADI. “She told me they were a state vendor and suggested using them. This ammo was much cheaper than the other sources.”

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