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Four Freedoms Coordinator Frustrated by Delays on Gun Safety

Steve Ballok
Steve Ballok
On May 29, the Four Freedoms Project donated a print of Norman Rockwell's famous painting "Freedom from Fear" to the Monroe Police Department. As part of the Four Freedoms Project, a monetary donation is used toward the goals of each freedom.

In this case, police agreed to use what is left over from the $7,400 — minus the print and frame — for some type of gun safety measure because of the horrific school shooting in Sandy Hook.

But now Steve Ballok, the Four Freedoms coordinator, is frustrated because nothing has been done since.

"I am concerned in the period of time there is no discussion," he said. "Before you can have a program, you have to have a plan. Before you can have a plan, you have to discuss the matter."

Ballok said he tried to have the matter put on a Police Commission meeting agenda without success.

Chief John Salvatore said, "The police department is not looking to get involved in a controversy. We'll pursue additional firearms safety initiatives when time allows."

He said his department already accepts guns turned in for destruction and distributes free gun locks at headquarters.

Ballok said, "Gun safety is now, not when time is available. Before the next accident with a child, a suicide with an adolescent, you want a program in place, not after the fact, so there’s no reason it should be delayed."

Ballok has emailed the chief asking what fund the money is in, for an audit of the account to ensure it is not being used for something else and for the account number so he can personally monitor it.

Salvatore said the only money spent was on the print and the frame, adding the rest of the funds remain in an account — untouched.

"The fund is not being misused," Salvatore said.

At a past Police Commission meeting the chief had talked about forming a committee to look into what type of firearms safety program would work best for Monroe. Ballok said he wants the committee to be formed and for discussion with public input at a Police Commission meeting to get something going.

While open to a variety of firearms safety measures, Ballok said he likes the idea of a buy-back program for guns people no longer want, which would ensure the firearms do not end up in the wrong hands.

Joel Leneker December 16, 2013 at 04:15 AM
Buy back program is a good idea and appears it has been successful in other communities.
Peg December 16, 2013 at 07:29 AM
What did he say?
Peg December 16, 2013 at 07:35 AM
"The police department is not looking to get involved in a controversy. We'll pursue additional firearms safety initiatives when time allows." Twenty children and six adults is not enough to find the time to persue additional firearms safety? This bring tears and a feeling of being unprotected by our owm police department.
Crown Royal December 16, 2013 at 09:39 AM
This just sounds like lobbying on a local town level as opposed to the state or federal government level. I think the money would be best spent on Mental Health rather than a gun buy back.
Bruce December 16, 2013 at 09:47 AM
Crown Royal - could you explain how mental health counseling will stop gun violence. You seem to imply that people who have anger management issues or psychotic behaviors actually seek out mental health services. Do you think such people should be identified and forced into mental health services? How would this be done? How would they be identified?
Bill Bittar (Editor) December 16, 2013 at 09:47 AM
One add to the story is that the police department already accepts guns turned in for destruction and distributes free gun locks at headquarters.
Crown Royal December 16, 2013 at 10:25 AM
Bruce, I am not saying I have a solution. I just think that Connecticut has some very strict gun laws already. I don't think ~$7000 is going to do much in terms of prevention either way. I just don't like the way this group is using this 'donation' to demand something be done. In my opinion, I would rather give them back the print.
Bob Loblaw December 16, 2013 at 11:31 AM
I found it interesting that He was asked at the last meeting if he owned a gun... what does that have to do with anything? Although that was left out of the minutes.
Joel Leneker December 16, 2013 at 11:42 AM
What about a free gun safety course presented by the Monroe PD? And I am sure there are many Gun outreach and education courses available with instructors sponsored by the NRA or the State of CT Police Organization.
cash December 16, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Back in the 70's Monroe Police Dept. and a specific LT. on the force organized a youth gun safety and shooting league every Saturday at the Garder Road target range . Guess what every Saturday all 15 shooting lanes were filed with 12-16 year olds. Lets instruct safety and trust in the youth and maybe use funding to restart this program.
Rt25 December 18, 2013 at 02:25 PM
CrownRoyal aka police person - you should wash your mouth out with soap. The organizer of this project did an outstanding job and many folks contributed to this project. Chief Salvatore, make this a priority and honor your commitment - you do still work for the taxpayers and we pay your salary. So do your job! And, show Mr. Ballok the books regarding this account. Just because you wear a badge does not entitle you to special exemptions.
Bob Loblaw December 18, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Just checked town calendar and it says the Police commissioners meeting is still on for tonight even though the agenda said it was canceled and rescheduled for the 17th then canceled on the 17th (assuming snow). Has it been re-rescheduled for tonight?
Crown Royal December 19, 2013 at 08:50 AM
Rt25, I am not a police officer and have nothing to do with the police department.

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