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Bloomington Police warns that giveaway safes are not actually meant for gun storage

 Sentry safe
City of Bloomington
The city spent around $60,000 on the Sentry safes, using part of a $500,000 violence-prevention grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The Bloomington Police Department said Monday that over 300 safes it gave away to promote safe gun storage are not actually meant to be used as gun safes — and could damage guns inside.

BPD gave away vouchers for 312 safes at the downtown farmers market June 10, as part of a grant-funded anti-violence campaign. The vouchers were in high demand and lasted only 45 minutes. Safe storage — from lockboxes, to gun safes, to devices with biometric authentication — keep loaded weapons out of children's hands and prevent accidental shootings.

The problem is moisture regulation inside these particular safes, which are made by Sentry. High levels of humidity can cause moisture damage to guns.

BPD said in a statement that it "recently became aware the gun safes given out by BPD were not, according to the manufacturer’s owner’s manual, intended for the storage of firearms. When these safes were purchased, Sentry made no mention of this model not being suitable for our intended use. Prior to purchasing the safes, the vendor was notified of our intended usage, but provided no information indicating the safes were not intended to store firearms."

"We deeply apologize for any inconvenience or concern this may have caused," BPD said. "The Police Department values the residents of Bloomington, and your well-being and safety are of paramount importance to us."

The police department offered tips to mitigate potential moisture issues inside the safes, including the use of silica gel packs or a dehumidifier rod.

The city spent around $60,000 on the safes, using part of a $500,000 violence-prevention grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The city bought the Sentry safes from Premier and Companies Inc. The rest of the money is slated to be used for a youth summer camp, gun buyback program, reward money for tips, and other programs.

The June 10 giveaway was done in partnership with Be SMART, an initiative aimed at promoting safe gun storage nationwide.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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