CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston police are hoping a new approach toward taking more firearms off the streets will lower the number of gun crimes in the city.
Chief Brent Webster outlined the department's new multi-faceted strategy, called "Project Gun Safe," on Monday. The goal of the project is to reduce gun crimes, to promote officer and public safety and to educate and involve community members on personal firearm responsibility. The project includes monetary incentives up to $100 for informants and for those wanting to turn in unwanted guns.
He said the officers were working on strategies on three levels -- community policing, law enforcement and education enrichment for youth.
Webster said the community policing strategies included a gun buy-back program and a personal inventory system for those who have firearms. He said residents who own guns legally can obtain a firearm inventory card from police to write down the specifics -- such as the model, size and serial number -- of their firearms to help them keep better records.
"We want to ask the citizens of Charleston to properly inventory and secure their firearms," Webster said. "It's a completely voluntary thing."
He said officers would set up a booth in a public place, for example at Charleston Town Center, and distribute the cards.
He said personal inventory cards are a good idea for gun owners because it keeps the gun's information together in case the gun is lost or stolen. The chief said in many cases where officers have recovered stolen or lost firearms that the weapons could not be returned to the owner because the owner could not provide its serial number.
"We're not talking about gun ownership or trying to infringe upon any one's Second Amendment rights," Webster said. "This is about street crimes and we're going to be very mindful of that."