NBC reports that the state inspector general’s office bought ammunition, pistols, and other related equipment after a 2017 law passed.
Spotlight PA said that the law expanded the office’s ability to issue search warrants and subpoenas. Spotlight PA is a non-partisan, independent newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and PennLive.
A spokesperson for acting Inspector General Jonathan Hendrickson said that after the purchase was made, officials quickly realized that the law did not empower their investigators to carry firearms.
Former federal prosecutor Bruce Antkowiak reviewed the 2017 law and told NBC that, “Nobody wants to go execute a search warrant and not have a firearm on them.”
Antkowiak continued saying that, “I don’t care how benign the crime may be that you’re investigating — the minute you go into someone’s home or business unannounced, under the authority of the warrant, there’s a serious risk you’re going to meet resistance.”
Community Legal Services, supervising attorney, Louise Haynes, think the guns should remain in storage. Hayes provided a statement, which read, “The overwhelming majority of benefits recipients are eligible for the benefits they receive, and most investigations reveal no fraud, but perhaps families struggling to comply with a complex web of rules.”
Haynes continued, “The carrying of weapons is intimidating, stigmatizing and unnecessary in this context.”
Hendrickson assured outlets that items are being held in a safe and secure location. They also added that the office is focusing on “return or repurpose the firearms.”