HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - More than 700 weapons being stored in evidence at the Hattiesburg Police Department are headed to the auction block this month.
Members of the Hattiesburg City Council approved the auction on a 4-1 vote in early January.
"The police department, evidence room or whomever is still responsible for maintaining this, keeping an inventory of it, and its unnecessary, I mean the city of Hattiesburg is not going to use the guns, any of the guns, let's turn that asset into something that we can use," said City Council President Kim Bradley.
Anyone can view the guns online at Jeff Martin Auctioneers, however only federally licensed firearms dealers can bid on the items during the online auction which begins March 16.
A 10-day notice will be posted at city hall, Forrest County Chancery Courthouse and HPD before the sale to inform licensed buyers of the auction.
According to MS Code § 21-39-21 (2013), governing bodies must "in three (3) public places in the municipality, notice that such property has been received or recovered," but can auction seized or stolen property "if no person claims the property within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date the notice."
The guns range from evidence in cases, unclaimed, recovered from various calls and weapons seized by officers, all which are being housed in the evidence room at the department.
The items are listed online under the "Upcoming Auctions" tab at Jeff Martin Auctioneers, and city leaders hope the auction nets upwards of $100,000.
"We can turn that asset into cash that can help support the police department in other ways and buy things that they need that maybe the general fund can't afford," Bradley said. "That could pay for a lot of extra things, and a $100,000 will go a long way in helping bring new equipment or whatever the needs are to the policeman."
Bradley said this has been a topic of discussion since his first term around 2008, and he is relieved that the city can gain some money off what's been sitting in an evidence room.
"They have value, we are disposing of them just how the law allows us to do, ample notice was given for the owners if they wanted to try to get them back, obviously some of them in here since 1994, how long does the city have to wait, we followed the law," said Bradley.