Everett’s free gun locks are aimed at weapon thefts

More than 100 were reported stolen last year. The locks are part of an anti-gang-violence initiative.

One of the gun locks Everett police are distributing. (City of Everett)

One of the gun locks Everett police are distributing. (City of Everett)

EVERETT — More than 100 guns were reported stolen in Everett last year.

Many of those were swiped from underneath drivers’ seats or from the tops of dressers and nightstands, Police Chief Dan Templeman said.

He sees it over and over in officers’ reports and recaps. Those firearms often get linked to gang activity or accidental injuries.

“They end up in the hands of the wrong people,” he said.

On Wednesday, Templeman announced the start of one of several new programs meant to address youth and gang violence. They fall under a mayoral directive by Cassie Franklin as part of the five executive orders she issued after taking office in January.

The Everett Police Department on Wednesday began offering free gun locks at its downtown office, soon to be followed by the precinct on Everett Mall Way. The campaign is called Lock It Everett.

The chief also hopes to bring firearm dealers on board to provide safety information packets during every sale in the city. The packets would encourage responsible gun storage, including using safes and keeping ammunition in a separate spot. Those conversations are ongoing, he said.

With a free lock and five extra minutes, gun owners can prevent incidents that could cause them “a lifetime of regret,” he said.

Other elements of the youth violence directive include parterning with schools and nonprofits, launching a gang response unit with six officers and bringing together existing community programs. Another investigative team still is “almost exclusively” working on gang-related crimes, Templeman said.

Many details about the new programs are getting firmed up, along with grant money, Templeman said. Shootings, including drivebys, are down this year compared to last. However, gang violence is cyclical and typically rises in the summer.

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This story was first published in the Everett Herald. Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rikkiking.