GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A western Michigan city has seen a sharp increase in seizures of illegal firearms in recent years.

Grand Rapids police have seized more than 265 illegal guns so far this year, up from 254 in 2016 and more than double the 127 guns recovered in 2013, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

"Every time we take an illegal gun off the street, it's a tragedy avoided," Police Chief David Rahinsky said. "I see a potential mother that doesn't have to be notified of their child's involvement in a shooting. It's a situation that could have turned out much worse."

The department began its One More Gun Off the Street program in 2016 to publicly highlight the effort to recover illegally owned or used guns. It was later rebranded as Keeping GR Safe. The department occasionally posts about a gun recovery situation on social media to inform the public about how and why officers approach situations with caution.

"People will say the way an officer approached their vehicle made them uncomfortable during a traffic stop," Rahinsky said. "By publicizing when we do take a gun off the street, I wanted to reinforce the idea that officers don't know what they're dealing with."

More training and proactive enforcement has led to the increase in gun recoveries, police said.

Rahinsky said the department emphasizes recovering illegal guns because it helps reduce violent crime rates.

Many guns are stolen during larcenies of homes, vehicles and businesses. Police often recover them during traffic stops or through witness reports regarding armed individuals.

More than 120 firearms were stolen during three gun-store robberies between Sept. 16 and Nov. 4. Authorities have since recovered 24 of the stolen guns and made more than a dozen arrests.

"Not a week goes by where we don't seize a gun," Rahinsky said. "At the end of the day, our mission is safe communities in which everyone feels safe."


Information from: The Grand Rapids Press,