Police say weapons turn-in another success

The second weapons exchange program sponsored by the Greenwich Police Department was declared a success last weekend .  — John Ferris Robben photo

The second weapons exchange program sponsored by the Greenwich Police Department was declared a success last weekend .
— John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich police are calling their second weapons turn-in event another success and a third is planned for September.

The police department has a continuing service where it will take weapons no longer needed or wanted off the hands of residents, but this past Saturday the department urged residents to bring weapons in during a specific time frame in exchange for gift cards. This is the second time this was done, the first being in February.

According to Detective Anthony Fiscella, nine long guns, seven hand guns, three BB rifles, one pellet pistol and a mix of ammunition were turned in. Those numbers are comparable to the February event where 15 long guns and three pistols were turned in along with several BB guns and five knives. This past weekend’s event didn’t feature any of the curiosities that were found in February when a sword and African spear a Greenwich couple had as souvenirs from a safari were turned in as well as a World War II rifle with bayonet still attached

Overall, police said on Saturday that close to a half dozen people turned in weapons with a few having multiple items they wanted out of their homes.

But despite the lack of Antiques Roadshow caliber items this time, Det. Fiscella said the event was a success because it helps with the goal of getting unwanted weapons safely disposed of. And to that end a third event is tentatively being planned for early September.

“We’re planning on doing this every several months,” Det. Fiscella said. “We’re very happy with the turnout today. It’s turning into a very successful program. There was a little short notice to this one but it was something we wanted to do and we think the word is getting out to the community that this is something we’re going to continue to be doing so people can safely turn in the weapons they just have lying around in the attic.”

Residents do not have to wait until September, though, if there are weapons they want safely disposed of. Residents may bring weapons to the public safety complex or, if they’re nervous about traveling with them, it can be arranged for an officer to come and take custody of it.

“A lot of stories we heard today from people were that these were weapons they had a long time and didn’t know what to do with them,” Det. Fiscella said, later giving the example of a man who found a pistol in the nightstand drawer of his late wife when he was going through her things. “When they found out about the program they felt it was a great idea to turn them in for destruction. They felt this was much safer than just keeping them at home without knowing what to do with them. Some of these weapons are valuable and some of them aren’t worth a lot of money and there’s not a resale value. They wanted to offer them up for destruction whatever their personal reasons are. They didn’t want them in their homes any longer.”

This is part of the department’s overall goal of informing the public about safe care and possession of weapons. The police department gives away free gun locks on an ongoing basis to ensure that weapons kept in the home can be kept safely and used properly by those with the training needed.

“Keeping weapons unsecured in the home can absolutely become a problem,” Det. Fiscella said. “Those weapons can be susceptible to falling into the wrong hands, like those of children or a burglar. Firearms should be secure.”

One turn-in item that did get some notice was a 1900s era breach loading revolver. The gun is more commonly referred to as a Derringer, but as police Technician Chris Girard noted that is a brand name and not the style of the gun.

The weapons and ammunition that were turned in will now be handed to the Connecticut State Police where they will be marked for destruction.

While other communities have experienced success with gun buyback programs, that isn’t what this was. No guns were purchased from residents. Rather this was a trade-in. However, there was incentive for this event, Det. Fiscella, said thanks to the donation of two $50 gift cards from Bennett Jewelers in Old Greenwich and 10 $25 gas cards from Putnam Shell on West Putnam Avenue. Those cards were given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. He reported that six of the gas cards were given out and that some residents said they didn’t want anything in exchange.

Det. Fiscella said getting community businesses involved to provide incentive for people to turn in weapons is something that will be continued into the fall.

“We have our community impact officers out there and we’re going to try and generate donations,” Det. Fiscella said. “The program has been successful even without offering compensation, though.”


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