LA County Sheriff's Department misplaces an M-16 assault rifle

Photo by Adam Henning via Flickr Creative Commons

An M-16 assault rifle.

Officials say the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has misplaced an M-16 assault rifle.

Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers sent an internal email to department supervisors Friday saying the M-16 going missing was "embarrassing."

The weapon was federal surplus given to the department by the state Office of Emergency Services, L.A. County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore told KPCC. Hundreds of them are given to the department every year, which Whitmore said is particularly helpful during tough budget times.

"This one we believe went missing around the first part of February of this year, and it's obviously an embarrassment, and it obviously just shouldn't happen," Whitmore said.

The OES has suspended the department's ability to receive surplus weapons until it can prove they know where all those weapons are at any given time, Whitmore said.

"Now, how it actually went missing, we don't know yet," Whitmore said. "Where it went missing from, we're not exactly sure. We do have an idea, but we want to continue to dig a little deeper into that."

The email from Rogers, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, decried the loss:

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

Whitmore added that the public has nothing to worry about and that this is an internal problem, with the weapon most likely in a locker or a police car's trunk somewhere.

The department is changing their processes to prevent situations like this in the future, with weapons being tracked every time it's handed to a new person, Whitmore said.

This story has been updated.

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