According to VC Star
A $650,000 state grant will strengthen efforts by the Ventura County Sherriff’s Office to seize guns and ammunition from hundreds of local residents who are banned from owning them.
The sheriff’s office was one of 10 law enforcement agencies to receive the California Department of Justice grant, which provided over $4.9 million in funding.
The funds come from the Gun Violence Reduction Program, which was included in the California Budget Act of 2021. An additional $5.1 million will be awarded in 2023 for a total of $10 million in enforcement spending.
The sheriff’s office plans to appoint a full-time investigator to pursue cases of illegal firearm possession with the funding. The new position will focus on individuals who are barred from possessing firearms, such as those with past felony convictions, people who have restraining orders taken out against them or individuals who are placed under a mental health hold.
One of the tools at the investigator’s disposal will be California’s Armed and Prohibited Persons System, a database of individuals who own firearms despite being banned by the state from possessing them.
Any time a person becomes legally banned from owning firearms, the system searches for records of them acquiring registered firearms and adds them to the database, Sheriff’s Capt. Brian Slominski said.
As of Tuesday, there were 342 residents in Ventura County who were on the APPS database, according to authorities.
Slominski said the grant will be used to fund two years of salary for the position, as well as overtime pay, equipment and associated costs. He manages the sheriff’s special services division and will oversee the new investigator.
Prior to receiving the money from the state, Slominski said illegal firearm enforcement was delegated to each respective sheriff station’s jurisdiction. He expressed optimism about the impact of having a dedicated investigator for illegal firearm possession, as he noted the difficulty of the task in past years.
“Every time you take one person off (the list), one comes on,” Slominski said. “There’s an ebb and flow, but it’s been really tough to get the numbers down.”
No one has been tapped for the position yet, but Slominski said it will likely be an internal re-assignment within the sheriff’s office. After the grant funding ends in two years, Slominski said he hopes the position will rotate among other deputies within the agency.
Slominski cited local Assembly member Jacqui Irwin, D-Westlake Village, as a major proponent of the APPS database, although he said the grant will include other types of firearm investigations, such as seizing unregistered firearms like so-called “ghost guns.”
“The investigator will be responsible not only for APPS investigations, but also any type of illegal transfer of firearms or sales,” Slominski said.
He also hopes to have the investigator assist with other neighboring agencies both inside the county and throughout the state with their own illegal firearm possession investigations.