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Bieber addresses surplus gun issue

WWPD Chief Scott Bieber. Photo via linkedin.

WALLA WALLA, Washington – As the Walla Walla City Council is considering whether to destroy or sell old surplus police guns, Police Chief Scott Bieber shared more information on the subject. Bieber says that the department’s weapons were purchased by the Walla Walla Police Department from gun dealers and the weapons have been in the possession of the WWPD the entire time of their life span.

“We do not sell back or trade in for credit guns that come in or weapons that come in to evidence or property,” Bieber said.  “We destroy those guns. Few reasons: No. 1, I don’t know the history of that gun. I don’t know where it’s been or what it’s done. All I know is the last part of it — is that it came into evidence/property. We destroy those guns.”

According to Bieber, the old surplus police guns are guns that were purchased by the WWPD. The department knows the history and the ordinance.

“We can trade those in to a federally licensed firearms dealer who will give us credit,” Bieber said.  “And we can use that credit to buy other guns or other equipment that we may need in the police department.”

Bieber explained how in 2015 the WWPD traded in rifles that were in the patrol cars and the department used all of that credit to purchase new rifles. In that case, the WWPD received about one-third of the price.

“We received about $2,000 out of the $6,000 bill,” Bieber explained.

That same year, Bieber said the WWPD changed all of its older .40-caliber Glocks ranging from 10 to 12 years old to 9 mm Glocks.

“The price to outfit the entire police department with the new 9 mm Glocks was roughly $22,500 and we received a credit trading in our old .40-caliber Glocks of about $17,500,” Bieber said. “It was a substantial savings to the city’s budget and the police department’s budget and, of course, the citizens.”

As described by Bieber, the WWPD currently has roughly nine shotguns and two handguns that are no longer used and are, as Bieber described “collecting dust in our armory.” It was decided to put them on the schedule to be declared as surplus on Jan. 23 in front of the Walla Walla City Council. Bieber estimates this collection of surplus firearms would earn about $1,500 worth of credit.

At that time, council decided to table that decision pending a discussion on what to do with those firearms once listed as surplus. Council members wanted to know more about the options of trading the firearms in to a federally-licensed dealer and getting credit versus having the WWPD destroy them.

Bieber hopes to put the surplus issue regarding police firearms back on the council’s agenda. While trading them in or destroying them has been brought up, another option Bieber described was possibly transferring them to an individual at the local gun club.  There’s a cost of $25 per gun to have a federally-licensed firearm dealer complete the paperwork for a transfer.

As for the process of destroying the firearms, Bieber says the option of having them melted down is not available in this area, so the firearms are cut into thirds and thrown away. The process of cutting the firearms, which is performed by police staff, is done in a way that renders the firearm unusable. Two people have to be present to cut up the guns which is a process taking between 20 to 30 minutes of total staff time for each weapon.

The next time this issue goes in front of Council, Bieber said he will recommend they allow the WWPD to trade in their guns in for credit with a federally-licensed firearms dealer.

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