San Jose, CA – Santa Clara County officials announced on Monday the formation of a County Gun Team that would be responsible for taking guns away from people who are not supposed to have them.
County officials pointed to almost the almost 4,600 people per year who have been court-ordered to surrender their firearms as the primary target of the new task force, The Mercury News reported.
But Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said she hoped the announcement of the County Gun Team would remind the public to report “troubling people” who shouldn’t have access to firearms under the state’s expansive new gun-control laws.
The announcement came two weeks after San Jose Police Department introduced its new Priority Gun Offender program targeted at taking high-priority violent criminals off the streets, The Mercury News reported.
San Jose Police Deputy Chief of Investigations Heather Randol said both initiatives have been launched in response to the steady rise of violent crime in the area.
“We’re dealing with increasing violent crime involving weapons,” Chief Randol explained. “Anything that’s going to make the community safer by removing illegal weapons is something we support.”
She said the manner in which law enforcement would remove firearms from those identified as prohibited from having them would vary on a case-by-case basis, the San Jose Spotlight reported.
“We have officers who are experts in this area,” Chief Randol said. “Our special operations takes each case very seriously. There is a step-by step-process that they go through before they actually serve that warrant.”
Chavez has asked the Board of Supervisors to fund the District Attorney’s Office’s request of $427, 000 to pay for a full-time attorney and investigator for the County Gun Team, the San Jose Spotlight reported.
Marisa McKeown, the supervising deputy district attorney who runs the district attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, said that historically, enforcement of gun bans has been sketchy and based on caseload, according to The Mercury News.
“It used to be a part-time job of the particularly motivated,” McKeown told reporters at the press conference on Feb. 24 to announce the new gun team. “It needs to be a full-time job of a team of people.”
There are concerns that the creation of a task force to remove firearms from people under so-called “Red Flag” laws denied people their rights without benefit of due legal process.
“The so-called ‘proposal’ lacks substance, details, clear accountability, and appears to be yet another government boondoggle to add expensive government salaries to an already bloated budget,” the Sacramento-based Firearms Policy Coalition told The Mercury News in a statement.
McKeown defended the new County Gun Team as having been created to provide support to domestic violence victims.
“The follow up was on the victim [before],” Chavez said. “It shouldn’t be up to the victim re-saying, ‘I think this person still has firearms.’ This [team] allows us to do it at a much higher level and a much bigger scale.”
McKeown said the team would consist of an attorney, an investigator, three analysts, and law enforcement officers, The Mercury News reported.