Leonhart: DEA addressing incident of detainee neglect
Detention procedures are now more explicit to address an April incident where the Drug Enforcement Administration forgot about a detainee for days, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said June 20.
In the incident, the DEA's San Diego division somehow forgot it had detained 23-year-old Daniel Chong and left him for more than four days without food, water or a toilet.
Leonhart, who spoke at a hearing of the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security, said that at the San Diego division, agents who bring in detainees are responsible for them until they take them to jail or release them, but the rule was unwritten at the time of the incident.
Procedures in San Diego now spell out agents' roles. Policies vary by field division, and some don't even have holding cells, Leonhart noted, but DEA has shared the new procedures in San Diego with its 20 other domestic divisions.
The Justice Department's office of inspector general is investigating the incident. Leonhart also sent a management team from the Los Angeles division to review what had happened.
Additionally, Leonhart said that the fact that San Diego had an acting special agent in charge was not an issue related to Chong's neglect.
The DEA has dealt with a lot of vacancies in the position of special agent in charge because the administrator and deputy administrator rose up through the ranks, which Leonhart said created a domino effect where people replace their superiors and create new vacancies.
- go to the hearing webpage (prepared testimony and archived webcast available)
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