VPD plans to auction surplus firearms

Published 11:58 pm Friday, July 8, 2011

Vicksburg police are looking to make a deal on some surplus guns.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Friday declared the police department’s collection of 1,864 assorted firearms surplus property, clearing the way to sell or trade the guns with a federally licensed firearms dealer and get police officers new weapons.

“The guns will be sold at auction,” Police Chief Walter Armstrong said. “What we’re hoping is that we can work a deal with a dealer to either trade the guns for new service weapons, or sell them and raise enough money to buy new guns.”

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Armstrong said police officers are using 19-year-old 9mm Beretta handguns, and the department is overdue in replacing the weapons.

“I was in the (Mississippi) Highway Patrol for 25 years,” Armstrong said. “They replaced guns five times during that period. Six months after I retired, they changed guns again. Other police departments replace their guns about every five years.

“This is a safety issue for the officers. When they go out to do their job, they have to know that everything is working 100 percent,” he said.

The surplus weapons include handguns, rifles and shotguns that were either used in crimes, modified or had their serial numbers removed, or abandoned or reported lost and never reclaimed.

Armstrong said interested federally licensed dealers can get a list of the weapons and a bid packet from the city clerk’s office in City Hall. He said he plans to put the guns on display in the near future for dealers to examine.

Mayor Paul Winfield said city officials had to petition the city, county and circuit courts to release the weapons to the police department so that they could be sold.

“We’ve passed the last hurdle,” Armstrong said Friday. “Hopefully we’ll be able to work out a good deal. We have a lot of weapons that are in good shape, and some are quite interesting.”

In another police matter, the board authorized city clerk Walter Osborne to advertise for bids for new police uniforms.

The board tabled advertising for police uniforms on Monday, after Armstrong said he wanted to change uniform shirts. The chief said Friday that the police will look at the light blue shirt that officers now wear, and black and navy blue shirts. He said the black and navy blue shirts are cheaper than the shirts now worn by officers.