All photos by Post photographer John Ferris Robben
Greenwich residents had a chance to do some spring cleaning of a very specific kind last weekend, by bringing unwanted weapons to the Police Department.
The turn-in program was the first done by the department and ended up being so successful that it could soon become a regular event. According to Detective Anthony Fiscella and Officer Keith Hirsch, Saturday’s turn-in, which took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., resulted in 15 long guns, three pistols, three BB rifles, two BB pistols, and five knives turned in. More unusually, a sword and an African spear were also turned in after becoming unwanted souvenirs from a long-ago vacation by a Greenwich couple.
“They didn’t know what to do with them anymore, but we were able to take them off their hands,” Detective Fiscella said while displaying the full collection of turned-in weapons to local media.
Detective Fiscella and Officer Hirsch coordinated the event and the collection with the department’s property and evidence technician, Charles Pennella.
It was reported that a total of 14 people participated in the event, 10 on Saturday and four prior that. People also turned in ammunition, both bullets and BBs. Programs like this have been in place around the country for years but have spiked in frequency since the Newtown shootings in December. Unlike other places, Greenwich did not offer a “buyback” where people would receive compensation for giving the weapons to police. This was a simple turn-in program and the officers in charge of it said they were very happy with the results.
“This exceeded both of our expectations, considering this wasn’t a buyback program,” Officer Hirsch, part of the department’s Community Impact Section, told the Post.
The program also suffered through a weather delay. It had originally been set for Feb. 9, but Winter Storm Nemo forced the two-week delay. But even with those factors, the results indicated that another program will likely happen within the next few months. Detective Fiscella said April is being eyed for a turn-in date and efforts are being made to provide more of an incentive, perhaps with gift cards available for people handing over unwanted weapons.
The officers stressed, though, that people do not have to wait for these events to get rid of guns and other weapons.
“You can turn in a gun anytime,” Officer Hirsch said. “It doesn’t have to be on a designated day. You can just bring it to the public safety complex and we’ll take care of it. Or if you’re nervous about traveling with it, we can send an officer over to you and take it off your hands.”
The weapons and ammunition will now be turned over to the state for destruction. But before that happens, there will be one last examination to make sure the weapons turned in are not worth significant money as antiques or do not belong in a museum. Among the items turned in was a World War II-era Japanese rifle with a bayonet in its cover, a 1949 Remington shotgun that was the first in the line to side eject, and a Smith and Wesson .32 revolver which was one of the first ever made in that line.
But lest anyone expect the GPD to suddenly make a guest appearance on Antiques Roadshow, the initial assessment was that none of the items, given their conditions, would be worth more than $1,000.
The event was also a chance for the Police Department to promote Project Child Safe. Under that program, people may come to the department and request a free safety lock for their guns. The program is ongoing, and people just need to come to the Public Safety Complex off Greenwich Avenue to get one.