The Crestview Police Department doesn’t covet your unwanted guns after all.
A recent Facebook post on the agency website called on residents who “find themselves in the awkward situation of getting rid of handguns, rifles and other firearms” to drop them off at the Crestview Police Department in the care of Deputy Police Chief Rick Brown.
“Guns in any condition can be brought in,” read the post, authored by Police Department spokesman Brian Hughes. “Those weapons that are still serviceable will be given to active duty or retired law enforcement officers or military members as personal weapons for recreational or service use. Irreparably damaged or unusable guns will be turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for destruction and disposal.”
The Facebook post caught the attention of one county resident who didn’t approve of the Police Department’s methodology.
“Did ya’ll see where the Deputy Chief of Crestview tried to illegally get people to turn their guns into him?" the resident, who requested anonymity, said in an email. "And used [the] Police Department Facebook page to advertise it."
Hughes acknowledged this week that the Police Department had erred in putting the Facebook post together, and the gun collection effort has been nixed without any weapons having been turned in.
“The error in the Facebook post made it sound like police officers would receive turned-in firearms for their personal use. Actually, only those firearms permissible for officers’ professional use under Police Department guidelines and regulations would be accepted for use in the department,” Hughes said.
Brown rejected the idea the Police Department had done anything illegal by offering to accept unwanted firearms.
“We would not have been collecting firearms illegally because any collection of firearms is done in accordance with state and federal laws,” Hughes said in an email after speaking to the deputy chief. “Had someone come in to surrender firearms after reading the erroneous Facebook post, the department would have handled them in accordance with the procedures we have in place to be in compliance with these laws. This is the reason we corrected the erroneous, premature post. We did not want there to be any confusion.”
Hughes said because the process of vetting firearms turned in as part of the collection effort would have been cumbersome, the Police Department decided to do away with the program rather than take resources away from more pressing public safety issues.
“It was a good idea, but our Facebook post was premature,” Hughes said in an email. “We jumped the gun.”