DPS: Guns, ammunition seized from Arizona government basement after director ousted

Posted at 4:49 PM, Dec 01, 2016

The ousted director of Arizona's social services agency had the department amass 45 handguns and nearly 85,000 rounds of ammunition as he planned to boost his internal security force, the agency's interim director said Thursday.

Former director Tim Jeffries also personally possessed a gun purchased by the Arizona Department of Economic Security, and a badge issued by the agency's sworn law enforcement arm, known as the Office of Inspector General, Interim Director Henry Darwin said Thursday. 

State troopers confiscated the guns on Nov. 23, less than an hour after Jeffries was forced to resign by Gov. Doug Ducey's chief of staff and escorted from the Capitol DES offices. Troopers then followed Jeffries to his Scottsdale home to confiscate his state-purchased weapon.

Photos released by DPS show the packaged guns, Glocks and Berettas, and several boxes of ammunition.

DES is the government agency in charge of distributing food stamps and unemployment checks. A DES spokesperson said there are also 13 certified sworn peace officers, 28 armed security officers and three Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act officers employed by their department, but they have not said what prompted the DPS seizure.

There were also an additional 15 officers scheduled to begin working at DES, but their job offers have been rescinded, DES said.

Other state agencies that have law enforcement duties also have sworn officers, including the liquor, gaming and revenue departments. The Arizona attorney general's office has about 50 gun-carrying investigators, spokeswoman Mia Garcia said Thursday.

Jeffries fired more than 500 DES workers. Ducey suspended his ability to fire employees in October and set up a system within the state human resources agency to allow workers to petition to return to their jobs.

As of Tuesday, more than 200 workers had applied for reinstatement, but none have yet been rehired.

Darwin said he was digging into the agency to see what if anything besides the termination practices needs to be changed -- there had been no progressive discipline in place or methods to determine the firings were justified.

ABC15 has been unable to confirm the reasons behind Jeffries' resignation. Five other DES employees, who were close to Jeffries, also lost their jobs that day.

DES has said not said whether they believed Jeffries was building his own police force or whether the ammo seizure is connected to his resignation.

Jeffries was let go after months of news stories by various Valley news organizations detailing hundreds of firings at the state's largest agency, which has more than 7,000 employees and administers dozens of social service programs including unemployment insurance, child support and food stamps.

He was hired by Ducey in February 2015 with no government experience and the Republican governor steadfastly backed him until Nov. 21, when he said the news reports had "shaken" his confidence in him. Two days later, Jeffries was gone.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.