EXCLUSIVE: HPD will destroy 2,300 old guns worth $500K

EXCLUSIVE: HPD will destroy 2,300 old guns worth $500K
Published: Aug. 5, 2015 at 10:16 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 5, 2015 at 10:23 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city of Honolulu will destroy $500,000 worth of old police guns instead of selling them to other law enforcement agencies or Honolulu police officers.

HPD has replaced more than 2,300 of its old handguns with new lighter, cheaper guns. Many police officers said those old guns still have value and should not be thrown away but sold or donated to be re-used instead.

Since 1990, Honolulu police officers have used Smith & Wesson 9 millimeter handguns and the city has replaced them with lighter and easier-to-use Glock 17s that cost about half as much as the Smith & Wessons.

Hawaii News Now has learned that the city plans to destroy about 2,300 of the old Smith & Wessons in the next few weeks, including 200 of them that are brand new and still in their boxes.

"I don't understand the thinking of the administration as to getting rid of these guns when we could benefit from the recycling, as long as there are safeguards," said Honolulu City Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi.

In a statement, HPD said, "Mayor Caldwell and the Honolulu Police Department agreed that they would not allow the guns to be sold to the general public and end up on the streets of Honolulu.  The same goes for selling individual gun parts that could have been used to assemble a gun."

Police discussed a number of options with city lawyers and budget officials, including selling the old guns with no restrictions on their future use which would have brought in $250 each or about $575,000.

Another option was selling them with the restriction that they could only be purchased by law enforcement, a move that would have generated $150 for each firearm or about $345,000.

Selling the guns for parts would have garnered about $100 for each gun, bringing the city $230,000.

The city said Smith and Wesson was not interested in taking back the old guns for credit as the company has in the past because the city was purchasing new guns from its competitor.

HPD officers said many of them were willing to buy back their old guns from the department, even going through a vendor for liability reasons, something that happens across the country.

"That way it releases the city and the police department from liability and they don't want the department to be in the business of selling weapons," said HNN law enforcement expert Tommy Aiu, who spent 30 years at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and has taught criminal justice at the college level.

The city budget department decided its rules do not allow HPD to sell any of the weapons to its officers, even though the department did that in the past, HPD said.

A police statement said neighbor island police departments use Smith & Wessons but they too are planning to replace them in the future and don't want any more.

But the state sheriffs division -- which also uses the Smith & Wessons -- hasn't heard from HPD with a donation offer.

American Samoa initially expressed an interest in acquiring about 250 of the guns, but HPD said following a change in administration there, the new administration is no longer interested.

"The only remaining option is to destroy the guns so they don't end up on the street," HPD said in a statement.

HPD could not immediately say Wednesday how much money the disposal of the guns will cost.

The department refused to allow Hawaii News Now to photograph the guns, which are being kept in a vault at HPD headquarters, citing "security reasons."  HPD also refused to release a photo of the guns.

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.