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Politics

Putnam Says Public Safety 'Not at Risk' in License Snafu

June 14, 2018 - 6:00am

Although his department issued concealed-weapons licenses to 291 applicants who should have been disqualified, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Wednesday the breakdown has been corrected and there was no threat to the public.

“Public safety was not at risk,” Putnam told reporters after a state Cabinet meeting. “Two-hundred and ninety-one people who should not have gotten a license to carry a concealed weapon did so, but they were revoked as a result of the processes that we put in place.”

The problem, first reported Friday by the Tampa Bay Times, has led to heavy criticism of Putnam amid his campaign for governor. His comments Wednesday were similar to other statements he has made in recent days to address the controversy.

The issue began in February 2016 when a Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services employee stopped logging into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to see if applicants seeking state licenses to carry concealed weapons or firearms should be “flagged” for issues like drug abuse, involuntary mental confinements, dishonorable military discharges or undocumented immigrant status.

The problem wasn’t discovered until March 2017 when an investigation began that revealed 365 applications merited further review, leading the department to revoke 291 of the licenses. The employee who failed to carry out the background reviews was fired.

Putnam said there is no indication that any of the disqualified people who received concealed-weapons licenses were involved in criminal activity while they had the permits.

“Any time that anyone who has a concealed weapon license is arrested we are made aware of that. That reporting occurs on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, depending on the arresting agency,” Putnam said.

Although information is slower coming from arrests made outside of Florida, Putnam said there were “no flags” on the people who should not have been licensed. “We have not received information on any of the 291,” he said.

Putnam also emphasized that all the applicants were run through three databases, which are managed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, including two that are based on fingerprints and the so-called NICS, which is based on names of applicants.

“I am absolutely committed to public safety and managing this program accurately and thoroughly, which is why frankly I am so disappointed that there was a breakdown and why we have taken actions to make sure this wouldn’t happen again,” he said.

Since the problem was discovered, Putnam said his agency has “strengthened the information flow and technology transfer” with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on background checks.

The Office of Inspector General in Putnam’s agency issued a report on the review breakdown last June. But it did not become public knowledge until Friday when it was reported by the Tampa Bay Times.

Putnam deflected questions on whether his agency should have alerted the public to the problem. He said “stacks of inspector general reports” are issued routinely in state government but are not publicized, although the reports are available as public records.

As to how the breakdown occurred with the now-terminated employee, Putnam said: “It was the dumbest thing in the world. It happens to anybody with a computer. She emailed IT (information technology) and said my password isn’t working. And they emailed her back with instructions on how to fix the problem.”

But the former employee failed to follow through on the advice, Putnam said.

“I dropped the ball --- I know I did that,” she told the investigators. “I should have been doing it and I didn’t.”

Comments

It is not that no one was at risk, that's great. It is extremely poor management, and even greasier to hide it for a year and not be transparent. Those are the real issues, and he failed both miserably. He'll make a perfect Gov., just like Scott the failed criminal business man...too funny...idiots.

Putnam did nothing... This only came to light after it was reported by the Feds due to no denials taking place, and the IG investigated. An Office of Inspector General report from June 2017 said that between February 2016 and March 2017, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services didn’t access an FBI crime database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System because an employee was unable to log into the system. Putnam’s office told the Times that the employee was “immediately terminated” after another employee discovered the situation and that every application potentially impacted was “thoroughly reviewed.” The lack of background checks is an “example of gross neglect” and cited the now-fired employee had been promoted from the mailroom to be in charge of database checks. “Why only one mailroom employee would be left to handle a job that is critical to the safety of all citizens with no oversight whatsoever is jaw-dropping,” Yes, it is... Even if Putnam did not have direct involvement in the day to day management of the employee. To allow a system like that to exist is at best, extremely poor management and oversight, at worst, negligence. You can try to spin it any way you want, but those are the facts... If you cannot management gun permits effectively, you sure cannot manage this state effectively.

Why is the Agricultural Commissioner issuing Licences for Concealed Carry? Who is funding Adam Putnam with all the ads on Cable? I suspect it is the Swamp Creatures and Government Workers pumping out the cash. Trump is looking for DeSantis to govern Florida and the Putnam effort is going to be like running on a hamster wheel.

Incompetence at low levels in the organization are often invisible. Supervisors should have caught and corrected the problem. When the problem was brought to light and elevated. Issues were fixed and the incorrectly done work was rechecked and corrected if necessary. The unfortunate thing is it is a political season and Mr. Putnam is a large target. His response is large because it is political AND he needs to reassure the public that the problem(s) have been addressed. It is a sad statement of the people, parties and media of this state (and nation) that they MUST always misinterpret actions of others.

Seems to be an awful lot of smoke for no fire.

"Opie" Putnam is an "honest man" (of the type "Diogenes" searched long and hard for..) SO, don't malign the man for HIS long, unblemished service to Florida,.. (regardless of YOUR particular 'choice' of vote cast)

Leftists running hard with all they got against Opie while the normal folk in Florida know this is nothing that will keep Opie out of the Governor's Mansion. Enjoy your brief feeling of fake power leftists this will pass and Opie will be your Governor.

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