The West Virginia Treasurer’s Office recently announced that it raised almost $110,000 for law enforcement agencies across the state thanks to a firearms auction held in Charleston.
According to a press release by State Treasurer Riley Moore, the auction raised over $109,800 selling more than 600 firearms lots and 83 ammunition and accessories lots to qualified bidders. The items consisted of outdated firearms from police inventory or unclaimed property firearms, as well as ammunition and related accessories.
The proceeds went back to the 19 law enforcement agencies that contributed the items for sale in the auction. The largest participating agency was the West Virginia State Police.
“We’re thrilled to partner with law enforcement agencies around the state to help them take old or unused firearms sitting in their storage rooms and turn them into funds that can be used to train, protect and equip their officers,” Moore said. “While other people talk about defunding police, we’re helping to fund them.”
West Virginia’s Unclaimed Property Code allows for state and local law enforcement agencies to turn over unclaimed or old firearms to the State Treasurer for auction.
The auction was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which created a backlog of weapons sitting in law enforcement storage.
The weapons at the auction were either older and retired by departments, or were seized as evidence and kept in storage rooms following the disposition of a case. Also included were illegal weapons confiscated from individuals not allowed to own firearms. Among the bidders were 83 federally licensed firearms dealers.
Law enforcement agencies that participated in the auction will receive the proceeds from the sale of items they submitted. Ravenswood Police Chief Lance Morrison said his department will use the funds to pay for upgraded equipment.
“Things such as radios, bulletproof vests, active shooter gear, weapons and ammunition that are obviously increasing in value now,” Morrison told WV Metro News.
The chief has also been able to upgrade the department’s communication technology.
“I have a portable radio that we just purchased due to unclaimed property money. We purchased 10 of those. It was over $15,000. That was something that has enabled us to upgrade our technology that we wouldn’t have been able to do so without the State Treasurer’s Office,” Morrison said.
The funds also go toward upgrading facilities and paying for training programs. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department used funds from a previous auction to purchase land and build its new facility.
West Virginia is the only state in the country that permits such auctions to raise funds for law enforcement agencies.