Petersburg police display portion of 283 firearms confiscated in 2018
PETERSBURG — The Petersburg Bureau of Police recently tallied the number of firearms officers confiscated in 2018 at 283. This was an increase over the number of guns seized in 2017, the year when Chief of Police Kenneth Miller took charge of Petersburg.
“What we care about is safety in our community,” Miller said. “If we take guns
away from the situation, it creates an opportunity for dialogue and a conversation starts. Then maybe, just maybe, just maybe, a person won’t die.”
After the guns are catalogued and their respective court cases are decided, they will be destroyed. A common practice around the country is to resell seized firearms to the community through gun shops or pawn shops, only to be found at another crime scene. The Petersburg police will oversee the weapons’ dismantling to assure that all essential weapon parts are no longer functional.
Miller referenced a recent incident in which a domestic dispute escalated after one of the people involved called a family member for help. That family member arrived with a shotgun. Miller said his officers are forced to combat this weapon-ready culture on a daily basis and it is something they are working desperately to change.
“What it’s telling is really sad for our community,” Miller said. “It tells us that people are preying on the community through fear by using and selling these firearms. Somebody has to stand up and say no.”
A large conference table covered in firearms on display at the police station was only a fourth of what the police seized during the year. All of these guns were taken without a shot being fired from either side of the altercation.
“Something that you can’t forget is that they’re doing this without incident,” Miller said. “These officers are using their skillset and their ingenuity to legally get these things from offenders, often convicted felons, without injuring themselves or that person. That’s the virtue of policing and that’s why we’re here. I’ll take that kind of police work every day of the week.”
Miller himself is a gun owner but said he believes in responsible gun ownership.
“Owning a firearm is like owning a motor vehicle: it's not your right, it’s a privilege,” he said. “It’s your right to breathe, but not to own a gun. That is a privilege.”
Sargeant Robert Elkins has been working in evidence for more than 30 years. He said the guns that have come in over the time he’s been working have trended toward more rifles and extended magazines, which can increase the number of bullets in a firearm from 14 to 30.
He said citizens have a crucial role to play in making the city a safer place.
“A lot of those weapons would have never been taken if the community
didn’t tell us, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on, you need to come deal with this,’” Elkins said. “There’s a lot more guns out there, even though 283 in a city this size is pretty overwhelming.”
Kimberly Knauer and Bill Bergamini, of the Petersburg Police evidence team in charge of documenting weapons, stand with about onefourth of the weapons seized by the Police Department in 2018.
This shotgun and scoped rifle were among the 283 weapons confiscated in 2018 by Petersburg Police.
These four sidearms were among the guns confiscated during 2018 by Petersburg Police.