The Long Beach Police Department will now be able to destroy weapons as big as a .50 caliber and as small as pocket knives locally, thanks to a hydraulic press machine—which officials say will increase efficiency and productivity—donated by a local resident.
Using 2,500 pounds of pressure, the machine—dubbed “The Crusher”—is expected to destroy 100 to 150 weapons in about a three- to four-hour period once a month, LBPD Sgt. Dan Barkwill said during a media event Wednesday morning.
According to Barkwill, the machine is unique in that it gives a wider crush range and will be able to crush up to three guns at a time—focusing on making the gun’s frame, barrel and receiver inoperable.
It will also be used to destroy other types of weapons such as knives, swords, and brass knuckles.
The weapons are those no longer needed as evidence, officials said.
Previously, Barkwill said the LBPD relied on destroying its weapons through the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
Sending packaged weapons via armed escorts every few months was time-consuming, costly, and required coordination between numerous personnel from both departments, Barkwill said.
“We end up getting about 1,000 guns a year, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less, so this is a huge relief for us,” Barkwill said.
The idea for the machine came about a year and a half ago when Barkwill spoke with Al Brunella, a Long Beach resident and business owner, about the needs of the LBPD.
“This was one of the items Sgt. Barkwill felt would really help the police department save not only a lot of money, but the ability to crush so many guns and keep them off the street is just invaluable to the department,” said Theresa Brunella, Al’s wife and a member of the Long Beach Police Foundation.
Barkwill would meet up with Al after hours to come up with plans for the machine and about six to eight months later Al was able to build the $20,000 machine while working in his manufacturing company.
“Al’s a great guy, he’s a tinkerer of sort. You put the item in front of him and he’ll build it. It's nice. Nice to see,” Barkwill said.
The machine was received by the foundation since the LBPD cannot directly receive donations.
According to Barkwill, the machine is expected to last a lifetime, with the only replaceable parts being the plates on which the weapons are crushed.
Photos by Stephanie Rivera.