The Dover Police Department can neither buy nor sell guns obtained as evidence against convicted felons and other persons who illegally obtained a firearm. So, when the weapons pile up, Dover PD makes the trek up to Evraz Claymont Steel to have the guns melted down and recycled as steel used in construction and other uses.
Dover Police Department evidence technician Robert Neylan and Lt. Eric Richardson drove up to Evraz Claymont Steel Oct. 26 with a van full of illegal guns and other weapons that had to be melted down.
Dover Police officers and detectives had confiscated the firearms from criminals who were not allowed to possess a gun as convicted felons or persons who could not produce legitimate receipts or permits, among other things, Neylan said. As such, they were ordered to be melted down.
As they waited for their turn at the furnace, Evraz maintenance mechanic Jack Concannon made a pit stop to check out the stockpile of weapons. With the police's permission, he pulled out an iconic Smith & Wesson .38 special caliber revolver with a 6-inch barrel and pondered how it would soon be melted down as scrap metal.
"I could cry," Concannon said. "It's a shame they can't sell them or give them away."
However, police were federally prohibited from buying, selling or giving away such weapons , Neylan said. Most of the guns that have been burned at Evraz have been confiscated during drug cases or homicide investigations, Neylan said.
Dover Police had compiled an annual list of weapons that had been entered into evidence, Neylan said. Then, a separate destruct list was prepared. Chief of Police James Hosfelt approved the list, which was then forwarded to the Delaware deputy attorney general for Kent County and approved. A judge then signed off on the order for destruction for the guns.
MORE ABOUT GUN BURNS
Weapons seized by the Dover Police Department come from an assortment of case scenarios. These would include:
Those used in the commission of a felony where the defendant has served their sentence and as a convicted felon is not permitted to possess a weapon. These would include those weapons where the court directed them to be forfeited to the department for destruction following a trial.Weapons seized from defendants who are prohibited by law from possessing weapons.Weapons seized in search warrants where no legitimate owner can be identified. For the most part, these would be stolen or passed hand to hand.Weapons seized under a protection from abuse (PFA) where the accused was not permitted by family court to regain possession.Weapons that were found or abandoned in city locations.Weapons that were turned in by a citizen to be destroyed.Once that red tape was cleared, Neylan, his supervisor and the Internal Affairs officer removed the guns from the weapons locker and cleared them of any ammunition.
Neylan and Richardson waited with Evraz refractory supervisor Dan Elliott for about an hour before the weapons cache could be loaded into the furnace at Evraz.
With their hard hats on, Neylan and Richardson rifled through the guns and showed Elliott some BB guns that bore striking resemblances to real guns such as an AR-15 and an AK-47.
One of the real guns in the pile that Neylan pulled out was a Glock 21 .45 caliber. Dover Police carry the Glock 23 .40 caliber.
Neylan also pulled out an $1,100 Kimber handgun.
"That is a beautiful handgun, beautiful," Neylan said, holding the Kimber pistol. "That would make some guys cry."
When their turn came after almost an hour, Neylan and Richardson loaded the guns, knives, swords and even crack pots still in cardboard boxes into an overhang bin that hoisted them into the air and slowly lumbered its way to the furnace. When the bin overturned into the furnace, a plume of smoke arose from the pile followed by a tall wall of flames.
Any impurities, including the boxes and plastic, formed the slag that was skimmed off at the back of the furnace while the molten metal remained at the bottom of the furnace. The glowing slag was then carried away by a huge, rumbling tractor like a scene out of "The Terminator."
The slag would later be hauled off for use as different sized grades of rocks used in road construction, Elliott said. And the tried metal would be poured into heavy, durable steel plates that would be sold for bridge construction and other construction, he said.
Despite the destruction of the weapons melted down on Oct. 26, Dover Police were still holding hundreds of others that were not eligible to be burned yet, Neylan said. These include guns that must be held as evidence for convicted felons still incarcerated.