In 2010 the LAPD completed an investigation into alleged gun purchases made by SWAT team members for the purposes of reselling the guns at a profit. Now the FBI has been called in to determine if any laws were violated.
The investigation will attempt to determine why the LAPD’s SWAT team, which has around 60 members, purchased over 300 specialized handguns from Kimber Manufacturing.
The LAPD has a longstanding agreement with Kimber which allows the company to brand weapons with LAPD insignia and market them as “identical to” the ones used by LAPD’s SWAT team. On the open market these guns are worth as much as $3,500, but the LAPD purchases them under contract for around $600 each.
The allegation is that members of the SWAT team were collecting money amongst themselves to purchase additional guns at the special LAPD price. While there was no contract allowing them to do, the LA Times reports that there was a “gentleman’s agreement” between the officers and the company. These extra weapons were then allegedly resold at a profit to non-SWAT officers within the LAPD and possibly to gun collectors.
The internal investigation in 2010 was criticized for failing to get to the bottom of the sales. Last summer the city called in the FBI to give an outside look at whether federal firearm laws were violated.
Lieutenant Armando Perez is the SWAT officer who discovered that additional weapons were being purchased by officers for resale. The 2010 investigation in the practice was faulted for never interviewing him about what he discovered. This year Perez filed a lawsuit against the city alleging he has been harassed since calling attention to the practice.