City to destroy old police guns; union says not so fast

SEATTLE — The Seattle Police Officers Guild has pointed out a major hitch in the city’s plan to melt down officers’ old guns in the fight against gun violence.

The union’s president, Ron Smith, said the move, which is expected to cost the city $30,000 a year in trade-in money, would break the city’s deal with the union.

“It looks like a waste of city money and it looks like an ill-advised move that was done without regard for our collective bargaining agreement,” he said.

Smith said retiring officers are, according to the agreement, supposed to be able to buy their service weapons. KIRO 7 discovered the Seattle Police Department trades in about 100 guns a year.

The plan, which was approved unanimously by the City Council on Monday and strongly supported by Mayor Ed Murray, is aimed at preventing officers’ old guns from getting into the hands of criminals.

“Have you seen any cases of Seattle police officers' former service weapons being used in a crime?” KIRO 7 asked.

“I’ve never heard of that happening,” Smith said.

Mayor Ed Murray could not provide data or specific examples, either.

“It sounds like this is more of a proactive step rather than a reaction to any data you might have,” KIRO 7 said.

“The data's there,” Murray said. “People are being shot and killed. This is not the most violent city in America ... But still, particularly young people are being shot and killed in this city with guns as they are around the nation.”

“But they're not Seattle police guns,” KIRO 7 pointed out.

“But the point here is, we have an epidemic of gun violence,” Murray said. “People who should not have guns, have guns.”

Murray said Seattle was “not an island,” and that officers’ former guns, which are currently required to be sold out of state, could make their way back into Washington.

Right now, if officers don’t buy their service weapons upon retirement, they’re sold by Gunarama Wholesale.

KIRO 7 obtained the contract, which lists the trade-in value of a Glock at about $300. With an average of 100 guns traded in a year, the Seattle Police Department calculates the cost at $30,000.

“That $30,000 would go to pay for quite a lot of things,” Smith said.

It is money that could be used to pay for new firearms, which is what the King County Sheriff's Office does with its trade-ins. Its contract is also with Gunarama Wholesale.

KIRO 7 discovered in August 2015, the Sheriff’s Office traded in 84 of its handguns with night sights and three magazines for 63 Glock handguns. The trade-in value was $26,238.

In 2016, the Sheriff’s Office traded in 117 of its Glock handguns for 43 Glock handguns. The trade-in value was $17,525, in part because of the condition of the handguns and because night sights and magazines were not included.

Seattle police said the money is negligible when it comes to the department's entire budget.

The Honolulu, Hawaii, Police Department replaced all of its guns with newer models and destroyed about $575,000 in firearms in 2015.