Guns taken from welfare checks could go back to owners - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Guns taken from welfare checks could go back to owners

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- A Rochester police SWAT team swarmed over an eastside neighborhood Monday afternoon and it was all because a family member called to report a man with a gun.

The standoff with police started with a welfare check, and guns were thought to be the reason for the call. It was originally reported that a deer rifle and a handgun were involved, but upon investigation, police found no weapons on the property.

These type of calls take place more often then you think. If weapons are involved in a welfare check, the Rochester Police Department does have a policy of passing them to relatives on a temporary basis, and if that does not happen, they take the weapons and hold on to them. It is a situation that Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson wants to avoid if they can.

"We don't like to take weapons, to confiscate weapons or other property for that matter, unless it's evidence of a crime or if it's contraband," Peterson said. "Weapons typically aren't, but there's certainly a public safety reason that we might take custody of those."

While he could not comment on Monday's situation specifically, Chief Peterson said the department's policy is to keep public safety in mind when welfare checks take place.

"We're not in a position to predict the future, we have to deal with the circumstances that are in the present, and if the information that we have is that somebody can legally possess those weapons and isn't in any type of circumstance that they're dangerous if they do, then they're certainly entitled to them and that's what we respond to," Peterson said.

If guns are confiscated from a welfare check, the courts and a mental health physician are often involved in determining whether the gun owner can get his or her weapons back.

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