Exclusive: Guns worth hundreds of thousands of dollars destroyed instead of recycled

Published: Aug. 14, 2015 at 4:47 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 14, 2015 at 5:09 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - We watched as a caravan of Honolulu Police vehicles left headquarters this morning with thousands of guns.  Guns that officers had used for decades.

Smith & Wesson no longer makes the model 5906 and HPD chose to outfit officers with the Glock 17 instead.

Many departments, like the Hawaii County Police Department are doing the same conversion, but they are getting some money for turning in the old weapons.

"Going to a vendor, the vendor takes all the weapons in bulk and gives them credit for each weapon," says Law Enforcement expert Tommy Aiu, "And then when they buy the new Glock weapon, they get credit for that which saves the county money."

Honolulu Police instead chose to destroy more than 2300 guns, potentially losing $500,000.

The department says that decision was made because they worried the old police guns would end up on the streets.

But Aiu says the vendors only sell to other law enforcement agencies.

"There are many smaller agencies... Selling or transferring a semi automatic to them, it provides a level of officer safety to those officers that don't have semi automatic weapons. So it's a good thing and that's what other agencies have done rather than destroy them."

Numerous police officers told me they wanted to buy back their old weapons, some said it had sentimental value because they used it for decades, others needed an off-duty weapon anyway and were willing to buy from the vendor, absolving the city of any liability.

In addition to the Smith & Wessons, there were 75 Sig Sauer, 40 caliber guns also destroyed today.  Those have a higher retail value.  The SWAT team upgraded to the 45 caliber.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi told me the gun destruction operation was a waste and that the police department should have at least gotten credit for the old guns or tried to recycle them.

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