Cedar Rapids police chief plans gun buyback in spring

Council member: 'No bad guy is going to turn in a gun'

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Police Chief Wayne Jerman is planning a gun buyback event in the city this spring.

In a report to the City Council on Tuesday, Jerman said the buyback plan fit into his effort to get tough on gun violence in the city. He called the current level of such violence “unacceptable.”

A buyback program is a success, he said, if it removes one gun from the street that might hurt someone.

City Council member Ann Poe said she liked the idea, though council member Don Karr said he did not.

“No bad guy is going to turn in a gun,” Karr said after the council meeting. Most of the guns that the program will attract are unused guns that law-abiding citizens own, he added.

Money used for the buyback program, Karr said, ought to be used to add a police officer to the department.

Jerman, who pointed to the success of a recent gun buyback program in Waterloo, said the police department was asking local businesses if they would contribute money or gift cards for use in the buyback effort.

At the same time, he said, the department’s officers are making more stops while on patrol with a focus on checking for illegal guns. The department took seven guns off the street in January, he said.

Jerman, who took on the Cedar Rapids job in late October, told the City Council that he also wants to reduce the amount of drunken driving in the city. He noted eight people died in seven different crashes in the city in 2012, and five of those crashes involved drunken driving.

He reported that Cedar Rapids police officers arrested 41 motorists for operating while intoxicated in January 2012. This January, the number arrested jumped to 61. In February 2012, there were 25 arrests for operating while intoxicated, while in the first week of February 2013, 19 people already had been arrested for the crime, the chief said.

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