Gun training for tax cops is off target: IRS watchdog

WASHINGTON Tue Oct 2, 2012 3:34pm EDT

A woman walks out of an Internal Revenue Service office in New York April 18, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

A woman walks out of an Internal Revenue Service office in New York April 18, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Armed Internal Revenue Service agents need more thorough firearms training and they need to be more consistent in reporting accidental firings of their guns, said the tax-collecting agency's watchdog on Tuesday.

"Special agents not properly trained in the use of firearms could endanger the public, as well as their fellow special agents, and expose the IRS to potential litigation over injuries or damages," said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

The inspector general said agents used firearms in self-defense eight times and accidentally fired their weapons 11 times during fiscal years 2009 through fiscal 2011.

In the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, special agents carry guns for executing search warrants and arresting suspects. They are the only federal agents who can investigate potential criminal tax code violations.

These agents generally have met the same firearms training requirements that apply to other federal law enforcement agencies, TIGTA said. Still, some of the IRS agents did not meet all the firearms training requirements.

Additionally, special agents involved in accidental shootings were not always forced to undergo remedial training when they should have been.

There is no IRS nationwide policy for keeping firearms training records and reports were not always filed after agents fired their guns, the report said.

The IRS said in response that the agency agreed with TIGTA recommendations for stronger reporting and training accountability.

(Reporting by Patrick Temple-West; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Jackie Frank)

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