Go inside Miami-Dade Police Department's gun vault

Miami-Dade Police Department's firearm reference collection holds hundreds of guns

Published On: Feb 21 2013 03:40:41 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 21 2013 11:00:00 PM EST
DORAL, Fla. -

The Miami-Dade Police Department's firearm reference collection room serves as a vault for all the firearms confiscated by officers or donated to the department.

Behind a steel door is a library of nearly every gun known to man. The room serves as a reference point of what each type of weapon should look like, its parts, and how it should shoot.

"For example, we have here a zip gun that was manufactured by a minor in shop," said Miami-Dade police criminalist supervisor George Hertel, Jr. as he showed Turchin various firearms.

"We also have small firearms that are also designed to be concealed, such as Derringers."

"What's this one?" asked Turchin. "That's actually a single shot pistol that was manufactured by a minor in shop class. He utilized parts from a toy gun and included a barrel here and actually added a small blade here in case the firearm failed," answered Hertel.

The department's crime laboratory, considered among the best in the world, oversees the firearm reference collection.

"One of the most recognizable firearms we would probably receive as evidence in the AK-47 type weapon," said Hertel. "(It) utilizes a magazine which is loaded in here. There's a select switch here which allows you to go from semi-automatic to full auto."

Turchin last visited the room in 1994. He said the types of weapons confiscated in South Florida have changed.

"At that time, one of the most recognizable firearms that were seen in the laboratory was the MAC-10," said Hertel.

"These were seen on many crime scenes, specifically through the 80s and 90s when we had all the difficulties with the narcotics trade down here. In addition to the MAC-10, the TEC-9 was also a firearm or a crime gun that was very prevalent in the 80s and 90s."

Most of the confiscated weapons are a result of the department's gun bounty program. Those who turn in someone with an illegal gun receive a $1,000 reward.

"We used to see a lot of revolvers. We don't see those as much as we did in the past. The majority of what we see are those semi-automatic handguns," said Hertel.

Included in the firearm reference collection is an anti-tank rifle, The weapon stands over 7 feet tall and weighs about 100 pounds. It was recovered from an anti-Fidel Castro group during the 1960s.

Another firearm in the vault looks like a pen but fires a single bullet when loaded.