Local police and public health officials say they are thrilled about the results of Saturday morning’s firearms buyback opportunity.
“We took in 35 unwanted guns in the community,” said Detective Lt. Scott Jones, “and we had a decent turnout that certainly exceeded our expectations.”
Board of Health member Maureen Richichi was more effusive during her report at Monday’s board meeting: “It was beyond our wildest expectations.”
The three-hour buyback window was a key component of the current Bedford Safe Campaign, which also includes community education and an emphasis on mental health.
Richichi reported that “people came with multiple guns,” ranging from a starter’s pistol to a BB gun. The drop-off format at the Department of Public Works parking area made the process “easy and stigma-free,” said Health and Human Services Director Heidi Porter.
“The feedback that I’ve received has been generally positive and this event may be something that we can build on in attracting more community partners,” Jones said. A gift card was provided for each firearm received.
Jones extended thanks to “our partners at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office,” as well as the Department of Public Works and Rotary Club of Bedford for supporting the campaign. Richichi said the sheriff’s personnel “thought our setup was great, and was the best way of handling it for a town.”
As the point person for the buyback, Jones was part of the formula for success, Richichi said. “So many people recognized him and made people feel calmer. There were no problems other than the wind chill.”
“We had a number of different organizations endorse this campaign,” Board of Health Chair Susan Schwartz noted. “Thank you to everyone who believed in it at the beginning. Look at what we accomplished.”
Jones noted that this Saturday, “We’ve partnered with Bedford Farms for the collection of toy guns from kids. All kids are encouraged to bring in their toy guns to the police station, meet Bedford Police officers, and receive a voucher for a free kiddie cone ice cream from Bedford Farms.”