The Spokane Police Department wanted to increase its spending on new handguns – and its request was poised to prompt an examination of its practices in disposing of used ones.
Instead, the department is withdrawing its ask for additional firearms funding, which police officials had said was necessary in part due to the budget constraints under which the department operated last year.
Department leaders have decided to make due with the budget they already have. This does not mean the Spokane Police Department will not buy new firearms this year, but it will drop its request for an additional $15,000 on its existing contract with a firearms wholesaler.
“We determined that we have enough firearms on hand and enough spending authority on the existing (contract),” said department spokesperson Julie Humphreys.
Councilwoman Lori Kinnear held up the funding request earlier this year until she received a definite answer to a simple question: What happens to the department’s used weapons?
The police department turns in its used weapons to Spokane-based firearms wholesaler Gunarama for a credit toward the purchase of new firearms. But, once the gun is in Gunarama’s possession, the department can not control where it ends up.
That concerned Kinnear, who worried that the police department’s own firearms could one day be used against its own officers or in the commission of a crime.
She’s not the only elected official in Washington to have shared that concern.
The Seattle City Council ordered that its police department have used weapons destroyed instead of reselling them in 2016, a policy that still stands today.
By withdrawing its request, it appears the Spokane Police Department will avoid legislative intervention in the way it purchases new handguns. All guns the department seizes are destroyed.
Kinnear, who is in the second year of her second term in office, told The Spokesman-Review she does not have the bandwidth to pursue implementation of a police firearms policy like that which exists in Seattle. Instead, she will focus primarily on issues related to housing and homelessness.
The city’s contract with Gunarama allows the department to spend up to $49,000 every year.
The department’s needs have not changed – it’s still bringing on new officers and looking to upgrade to newer optics on its firearms – but it will work within the existing budget, which will automatically renew next year, according to Humphreys.
The department’s proposal was set to be voted on at the Council’s June 8 meeting.
Editor’s note: This article was changed on June 8, 2021, to correct the information about Councilwoman Lori Kinnear’s term in office. She is in the second year of her second four-year term.
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