St. Louis Public Radio News
3:01 am
Wed December 3, 2008

Police board approves gun buyback

St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis police department has gotten the go-ahead to run a program that pays cash for unwanted guns, no questions asked.

Wednesday's vote was the second attempt to fund the gun buyback program and some advertising using $57,000 in forfeited assets. The Board of Police Commissioners deadlocked about three weeks ago when it took the vote after Mayor Francis Slay, a supporter, had left the meeting.

The new tally was 4-1 - treasurer Vincent Bommarito changed his vote, though he's not convinced the buyback actually reduces crime, calling it "a PR thing."

Officers last year collected about 540 guns. While crime is down in the city overall, helped by a large drop in property crimes, assaults involving a gun and homicides are up. That fact doesn't deter Mayor Slay.

"We can take 500 guns off the street, and if one of these guns can be used to hurt someone that was taken off the street, out of 500, it was worth the effort," he said.

Board president Chris Goodson was the only no vote. "I would prefer, as I stated earlier, that this 57-thousand dollars would be used on officer equipment as you have done and your staff has done on other items," he told Chief Daniel Isom, who made the request.

The chief told the commissioners he is looking into private financing for next year.