"Last year, the annual inventory revealed that two firearms were yet to be accounted for," Rosenblatt wrote to KQED. "Staff and equipment routinely moves throughout San Mateo County on a regular basis, thus the tracking of resources may not necessarily have been in accord with that movement."
Rosenblatt said the department took the matter "very seriously" and took corrective action in conjunction with state and federal overseers of the program. She did not immediately respond for a request to elaborate on what the action was, or why the department remains suspended.
"A missing weapon is very serious and it's investigated thoroughly," said Defense Logistics Agency spokeswoman Mimi Schirmacher. She said the agency does not comment on pending investigations.
Weapon Stolen in Vacaville
The Napa County Sheriff's Office's missing M16 was stolen in April, Capt. Doug Pike said. A deputy who was part of the department's SWAT team had the rifle in his personal car, which was broken into in Vacaville, Pike said.
"Obviously, SWAT members are equipped to respond to scenes if they need to from home," Pike said. "He had the weapon in his vehicle and it was stolen."
Pike said he didn't know if the rifle was in the cab of the car and visible or in the trunk, but he said the car was locked. He referred additional questions about the theft to the Vacaville Police Department, which did not respond to requests for a police report on the incident.
"We participated in the program since early 2000, and we have a number of items of equipment we've received," Pike said. "This is the one item, unfortunately, that has gone missing from our inventory."
Pike said that, as far as he knows, the rifle is still missing. The department's suspension, which began May 6, could last more than a year, Pike said.
The department had just received 10 5.56 mm rifles in late 2013, according to documents from Cal OES.
San Mateo and Napa County aren't alone in their suspension status. Nine California law enforcement agencies are suspended from the 1033 program, according to Cal OES. The suspensions all stem from lost weapons, including one pistol, 10 M16 assault rifles and one M14 rifle.
The San Mateo Sheriff's Office has received 78 assault rifles and a truck through the program. More than 7,700 M16s have been distributed in California since 2006. In just the last two years, California agencies have also received 41 mine-resistant vehicles.
Many agencies have requested more benign items, though, including sleeping bags and heavy coats.