Somehow nearly three dozen guns are missing from an abandoned vault in the city of Compton. Questions continue to arise as to where they could’ve went and if this were an inside job. Here’s what we know.
The Compton Police Department was disbanded in 2000. In 2001 former Mayor Eric Perrodin took office and current City Manager Cecil Rhambo led the transition of the police department moving under the control of the Sheriff. Sources say Rhambo helped with deciphering which former officers would become deputies.
Between 2001 and 2010, it became the mission of Mayor Perrodin to resurrect the police department. He outfitted Code Enforcement officers with guns, the council paid consultant Joseph Rouzan $1 million dollars to produce a feasibility report supporting the departments return, radios were bought then the beloved former Compton Fire Department Battalion Chief Marcel Melanson was charged with theft of the radios and attempted arson of the fire station on Acacia.
Mayor Eric would lose his opportunity to be elected to a fourth term when residents voted in Aja Brown in 2014.
Between 2001 and 2017 the city has had nearly a dozen city manager’s.
In January 2017 it was reported that Cecil Rhambo was selected as the new city manager and by March he had a conversation with a unamed code enforcement officer who made him aware of the stockpile of weapons. It is not public knowledge of how the code enforcement officer came to know this nor is it known if this same code enforcement officer shared this information with any of the previous city managers.
When the missing guns were first reported by ABC7 last month, Rhambo told reporters:
[He] Rhambo ordered the sheriff’s department to inventory the weapons and remove them from city property until the Compton city officials could decide what to do with them.
“There were several people at the time who were working who had the combination. I had access to the combination. But over the years I have no idea the number over 17 years who still had access to that combination,” Rhambo said.
In an article that came out in today’s Los Angeles Times, Rhambo told reporters the guns were inventoried by the Sheriff’s department in March but didn’t go back to retrieve them until five months later in August.
The city of Compton regularly hosts gun buy back events and it is not known why the Sheriff’s department didn’t take possession of the guns the day it was brought to their attention.
Rhambo told the Times:
“There’s stuff a little too loosey-goosey around here,” City Manager Cecil Rhambo Jr. told a Times reporter Tuesday evening.
Rhambo, who arrived at City Hall just over a year ago, said he ordered an inventory of the city’s sensitive property not long afterward.
“I wanted to make sure we could account for those kind of things,” Rhambo said.
This type of lack of security and safeguards are similar to findings in a recently released state audit concerning the city’s finance department. An employee was able to steal $3.7 million dollars under the nose of City Treasurer Doug Sanders and as in the case of the guns and money, there were no operable cameras watching either location.
2UrbanGirls has previously reported how the city spent millions on surveillance cameras for the city streets and parks which are also inoperable. Do any cameras work in this city to stop crime?
A $10,000 reward has been offered in the return of the stolen guns.
“It is fair to say, it was likely an inside job,” said Charles “Sid” Heal, a retired L.A. County sheriff’s commander and weapons expert told the L.A. Times.