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Lodi police officers to get new Glock handguns

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Posted: Thursday, June 3, 2004 10:00 pm

After using the same guns for more than 11 years, Lodi police officers will soon get updated models of their Glock pistols.

Though the 122 new guns will look the same as those previously used, they will have slightly improved hand grips and will allow for night sights. More importantly, the guns will not be worn out after having been fired thousands of times.

As the weapons have aged, the Lodi Police Department has seen an increase in problems that require repairs.

"You get one little piece in there that breaks, and (the gun) is done," said Lt. Chet Somera, who maintains the inventory of all the department's firearms.

Glock officials have said that police guns, which are shot often due to target practice, tend to break down after years of use, Capt. David Main said.

"The last thing we want is for an officer to be in a situation where he or she is forced to use a weapon, and then have it malfunction," he said.

Through a program offered by Austria-based Glock, the department can exchange its used weapons for new ones at a fraction of the market cost.

The 122 new pistols, along with 30 additional magazines, will cost a total of $20,570 and will be paid for with assets seized in criminal cases that have already been adjudicated, Main said.

Twenty of the extra magazines, which hold 13 or 15 rounds, will be stored in lieutenants' and sergeants' cars, and the remainder will be rotated and used in case any need to be replaced.

Before the discount, the department was quoted a price of $433 per gun, Somera said. At that rate, the new guns alone would have cost more than $50,000.

One of the Glock handguns the Lodi Police Department will trade in for new ones. (Jennifer M. Howell/News-Sentinel)

Any purchase of more than $5,000 must go before the Lodi City Council, which voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve the purchase. The guns will be ordered as soon as paperwork is processed, Somera said.

One part of the work will be to bypass the California law that requires anyone buying a firearm to wait 10 days after purchasing a gun before the gun can be picked up. Law enforcement agencies which provide proper documentation do not have to wait, Somera said.

Once the new guns arrive, each officer will have to pass a shooting qualification with the new gun before swapping it.

"We will make sure they can shoot with that gun, because every gun is a bit different," Somera said.

Though guns may appear to be identical, all officers must qualify with their own guns before taking them on the streets.

Additionally, all officers must pass a qualification test every quarter, and they also practice shooting on their own in the range beneath the old police station.

Once the officers make the switch to the new pistols, the old ones will be shipped back to Glock. Officials at the company's Smyrna, Ga. office did not return messages Thursday.

Somera wasn't sure what Glock does with the guns, but he said one of the department's main concerns was that the weapons not go directly back into circulation - for use by another officer or a civilian.

"We didn't want to sell them to an arms dealer. We wanted them to go directly back to the company," he said.

Glock's buy-back program allowed the department to do exactly that, and Glock will also pay $300 for each returned gun.

Glocks at a glance
Of the 122 new .40-caliber Glock pistols the Lodi Police Department plans to buy, the majority will be Glock 22 models. These are the weapon's specifications:
Length: 7.32 inches.
Width: 5.43 inches.
Width: 1.18 inches.
Barrel length: 4.49 inches.
Magazine capacity: 15 rounds.
Weight, with full magazine: 11.46 ounces.
Number of safeties: 3.

The new guns will go to each of Lodi's 78 sworn officers, as well as several part-time officers. Each of the 14 SWAT team members also has a separate Glock pistol used only during SWAT operations.

Some officers, including those in investigations, have an extra gun as well, Somera said. For instance, he said, some detectives have a gun at home so they can respond directly to a crime scene without first detouring to the police station.

The remainder of the guns will be stored in the police building's armory, which can only be unlocked by four senior officers, including Somera. All weapons seized in criminal cases are stored in evidence and not used by officers.

The extra pistols will be ready in case an officer needs a replacement gun, Somera said.

Contact reporter Layla Bohm at layla@lodinews.com.

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