The NCUA will establish a new office focused solely on agency security and continuity, Public Affairs Specialist John Fairbanks told Credit Union Times.
“We anticipate naming a director of the office in the near future,” he said.
The announcement was in response to questions about examiner safety, prompted after court documents revealed NCUA employees discovered 10,000 rounds of ammunition and semi-automatic weapons in a storage room when they seized the $23.6 million Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union in Cleveland earlier this year.
NCUA employees also discovered a go bag in the office of former CEO Alex Spirikaitis, which was packed with blank identification cards, clean underwear, a razor, a map of a Los Angeles address and a variety of prepaid mobile phone cards, Marriott hotels cards and stored value cards, prosecutors said.
Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, told Credit Union Times in a statement that the situation in Cleveland was unusual, but NCUA employees have ongoing concerns about personal safety.
The NTEU represents approximately 950 of NCUA’s nearly 1,200 employees, and about 150,000 bargaining unit employees in 30 federal agencies and departments.
Kelley also said the NTEU will work with the NCUA to explore ways to enhance and improve the safety and security of employees.
Fairbanks confirmed that statement, saying the NCUA is presently working in partnership with the union to identify and address additional on-the-job safety concerns.
The NCUA continually reviews policies and procedures for enhancing the security of employees working in the field and in office environments, Fairbanks said. Police officers don’t regularly accompany NCUA employees to credit unions when the regulator places them into conservatorship. However, Fairbanks said when necessary, the regulator will work with law enforcement and security specialists to protect NCUA employees.
A former NCUA examiner, who agreed to speak anonymously, said the NCUA does a good job sheltering inexperienced examiner staffers from volatile situations. If there is a perceived threat, law enforcement coordination is used to assist in serving conservatorship orders, the former field employee said.
“There truly is another side to the industry that most people never see or hear about,” the person said.
The NCUA was not able to immediately provide additional details regarding the new office, such as how the office would be funded and if it would impact the 2014 operating budget.