- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Secret Service did not conduct a review of its response to a 2011 shooting at the White House but spent $17 million to make security improvements without knowing if they were needed, according to a new watchdog report.

On Nov. 11, 2011, Oscar Ortega-Hernandez shot an assault rifle at the White House from Constitution Avenue, hitting the building at least eight times and breaking one of the historical windows, although not penetrating the ballistic glass. He fled the scene, crashing his car less than a mile away, and fled on foot leaving his gun at the scene. He was arrested in Pennsylvania five days later.

Most Secret Service officer who heard the shots responded immediately and launched an investigation into the incident, but a formal review of the service’s response was not conducted, leaving questions about what security improvements could have been made and whether best practices were followed, according to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.

After the incident, the Secret Service spent at least $17 million to improve infrastructure around the White House and increase patrols, according to the report.

“However, without a formal after action review and detailed analysis, the Secret Service cannot be certain these changes were necessary, would have minimized the potential threat, or improved the response to the incident,” the report said.

Inspector General John Roth also identified concerns about potential vulnerability related to chain-of-command communication, training and radios the Secret Service used.

For example, although most unformed division officers at the White House responded as soon as they heard the gunshots, some waited for confirmation that shots were fired over their radios. Others did not hear anything on the radio due to radio static, according to the report.

The Secret Service also did not assess its investigative response to identify weaknesses that might have delayed evidence collection and the shooter’s capture.

For example, the Secret Service ran the registration of the crashed vehicle on the night of the shooting and Park Police verified that one of the owners, Ortega-Hernandez, had left Idaho a month ago. But neither issued a preliminary lookout, and as a possible result, the Arlington, Virginia, police department did not detain Ortega-Hernandez when they later encountered him on Nov. 12.

Secret Service officials told investigators that they have instituted changes to the service’s operations, protocols and procedures since the incident occurred over four years ago. Officials said the new report offered no new insights or constructive conclusions.

The report comes the same week it was revealed that a Secret Service agent’s gun, badge and other personal items were stolen from his car that was parked near the White House.

It is the latest blemish on a Secret Service record that is becoming increasingly marked as it grapples with multiple scandals in recent years, including agents’ misconduct and security lapses at the White House.

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