SANTA FE (KRQE) — A unique solution to a shortage of gift cards and a big mistake led to the personal information of dozens who participated in Santa Fe's gun buyback program open to the public.
"It shouldn't have happened, but it did," said Santa Fe Police Department Chief Raymond Rael. "I apologize on behalf of the city, I don't think that information should've been out there."
It all started Jan. 12 at a
Saturday gun buyback. The city planned to give out prepaid Visa gift cards to anyone who brought in a gun.
No names were to be taken and the gun owner would get $100 for rifles and shotguns, $150 for handguns and $200 for assault weapons.
SFPD budgeted $20,000, but there were more people with guns than the city had gift cards for. So to keep those guns from going back onto the street, SFPD says it gave those waiting in line an option.
Either come back at the next event in February, or we'll give you an IOU if you waive some anonymity.
"With that I.O.U we'll take down your name and contact information so that we could get them the money that the city owed them," said City Attorney Geno Zamora.
The contact information was given solely so the city could pay buyback participants. At the January buyback, 49 people got IOUs. Another shortage at a
February buyback led to 43 more people receiving IOUs.
When SFPD went to the city for $33,000 for a third gun buyback scheduled for March, it provided the city with a list of information, including a list of the 92 people it owed money to from the first two gun buybacks. That information also included addresses and phone numbers along with what weapons the city bought from the person.
Then the Finance Department put that information in a packet for the Santa Fe City Council making it public record.
Both Zamora and Rael apologized saying the city made a big mistake.
Among the 92 names was Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe. Records show he sold the city two handguns and an assault rifle at the January buyback.
Egolf told KRQE News 13 the assault rifle was a Korean War relic that had been hanging around his house for years.
Egolf says the release of his name doesn't bother him, but he's concerned the release of information violated the public's trust and could hurt participation in future buybacks.
"My concern is for those who do wish to remain anonymous, that there be a way for them to do so and for them to be able to rely on the city's assertion that they'll remain anonymous," Egolf said.
Rael told News 13 to keep the problem from happening again, the city will not offer IOUs at its scheduled March 9 buyback.
"We're going to offer nothing but the Visa cards, and once we're out of them, we're done," Rael said.
So far, Santa Fe police has taken more than 400 guns off the street at a cost of more than $50,000 through the two gun buybacks.
Zamora says the city's still determining who was responsible for the information getting distributed.
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