Replacing an aging arsenal
by Jon Mendelson
Feb 22, 2013 | 5916 views | 26 26 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lt. Michael Vieira of Tracy Police Department talks about his Glock .40-caliber pistol on Feb. 15. As a move toward standardization, new Glocks will replace all the department’s sidearms.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
Lt. Michael Vieira of Tracy Police Department talks about his Glock .40-caliber pistol on Feb. 15. As a move toward standardization, new Glocks will replace all the department’s sidearms. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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When a police officer pulls for his gun, he needs to know that his firearm will work.

But the Tracy Police Department’s arsenal is aging and increasingly unreliable and needs to be replaced, according to Chief Gary Hampton.

The department’s 100 Glock .40-caliber pistols are “beyond their life expectancy,” Hampton said. Despite the department’s best efforts to repair and maintain the guns, some are wearing out.

“We’re starting to see weapons start to fail during training,” Hampton said.

Lt. Michael Vieira, who oversees the ordering of ammunition and firearms for the department, said he is not aware of data detailing how many weapons have malfunctioned.

Though there has not been a “catastrophic failure,” some parts of the guns, such as springs, deteriorate and sometimes cause the guns not to feed bullets or expel spent ammunition properly.

Officers are trained how to deal with a malfunctioning weapon, but Vieira said a gun that jams at an inopportune time could prove deadly to the officer, his team or other people nearby.

“With a firearm, in the situation that it’s going to be used on the street, it has to work 100 percent of the time,” Vieira said. “Failure is not an option.”



Weapons see heavy duty

Tracy police officers did not fire a single bullet while on the streets in 2012, but Vieira said the department’s guns still saw steady action.

Every sworn officer practices four times a year, and some officers assigned to tactical roles do so twice a month.

Vieira said the number of rounds fired per session varies according to the type of training, but most patrol officers fire fewer than 400 bullets a year. However, Vieira said many officers choose to practice with their weapons outside those sessions.

With 75 sworn officers on the department roster as of Jan. 21, that adds up to a lot of wear and tear on handguns, Vieira said. And some of the guns, he said, “are probably close to 20 years old.”

Each gun is inspected annually, and a firearms expert replaces worn parts and makes minor repairs. At this point, though, Vieira said buying new weapons is more cost-effective and practical than continually fixing old equipment.

The lieutenant likened it to replacing a car that has been driven hard.

“At the end of a year or a couple years, you have some that have 20,000 or 30,000 more miles on them than one bought at the same time,” Vieira said. “It’s the same with firearms. … There’s no way to know the maximum (lifespan).”

Hampton said it will cost about $50,000 to replace the department’s handguns with new Glocks, which Vieira said were chosen for their “industry standard” reliability.

Vieira said the replacement cost would be accounted for in the police department’s 2013-14 fiscal year budget, which has not yet been approved by the City Council.

The department’s overall 2012-13 budget was $22,832,180, with $314,000 set aside for acquiring new equipment and $731,970 set aside for equipment repairs.

According to Vieira, the department has asked companies to give estimates about the cost to replace its handguns, a standard way public agencies seek to get the best value for contracted services and supply orders. Once the department selects the best bid, it should take 90 days for a manufacturer to fulfill the order, Vieira said.

It could take longer to process the department’s order for about 30,000 rounds of ammunition, especially for its rifles.

The department relies heavily upon .223-caliber AR-type rifles, the same kind used to massacre 20 students and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., on Dec. 14. Since then, demand for those guns and bullets has risen, as a national gun control debate has prompted many gun owners to stock up.



Demand on rise

Mike Baryla, the 25-year-old owner of Tracy Rifle and Pistol, is one of many private shop owners who can’t keep merchandise in stock since politicians began to consider a ban on assault-style rifles and large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Pointing to a pile of empty UPS boxes and bare shelves Feb. 19, he said people are buying guns and ammunition as soon as they arrive at the 2726 Naglee Road store.

“It’s crazy right now,” Baryla said. “The guys who usually buy two or three boxes (of ammunition) just for the weekend are buying two or three cases.”

Growing demand, he said, is increasing the cost charged by distributors.

Tracy Rifle isn’t “jacking up” prices as some stores are, Baryla said, “but we’ve got to stay in business.”

When it comes to buying guns, Vieira said the police department should be able to avoid the increased costs and delays impacting private businesses and buyers because of its stature and because it deals directly with manufacturers.

“Law enforcement … goes to the front of the line,” he said. “I don’t expect (the cost) to be higher. I don’t think manufacturers are raising their prices.”

But police could still see their order of .223 rifle rounds take nine months or longer to fill, even as the department is anticipating to use more of those bullets than usual.



Standard firepower

Vieira said the department is in the process of standardizing its rifle arsenal to the AR platform and should choose its desired manufacturer some time in the next few months.

When it secures the new rifles, the department will need to put officers through an extra four-day training session for those rifles. That means “a lot of rounds” will be fired, Vieira said.

The AR platform will become more important, he added, as the department moves away from shotguns.

Officers on patrol are required to have a shoulder-fired gun in their cruiser, Vieira said, but few officers choose a shotgun. The guns have limited use beyond close range and can pose a risk to bystanders if a spreading shot, instead of a slug, is used.

“Not all those pellets are going to hit that target,” Vieira said. “You have to worry about public safety.”

Vieira expects the department to finalize its search for a new shoulder-fired weapon later this year.

• Contact Jon Mendelson at 830-4231 or jmendelson@tracypress.com.
Comments
(26)
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Leo71
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February 28, 2013
Sounds like a majority vote for the handgun type and caliper size and should all be the same, others pay for their own as longest it is the same caliper with a small compasation (money)paid to the buyers. The change of hand grip types sometimes do not work very well for some people. The AR-15 should be suffiecent instead of the Shotguns for the streetbeat cops. Usually the shotguns and AR-15's work well for Swat teams. "Safety" for them and citzens if the Gloak comes apart or blows up on their faces. My opinion would be 38's the AR-15's as there back up for a real shootout untill swat teams arive's. It's unreal when there is one Bank robber get's hit with over hundred rounds instead of one bullet one kill (AR-15).
fortheunderdog
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February 26, 2013
I'm having a hard time believing the comment from Anotherface, that he was stopped for failing to use his turn signal and was approached by the officer at gunpoint. There's more to this story than meets the eye. Did you pull over and stop in a dimly lighted area? Did your driving give the officer reason to believe his safety was in jeopardy? Were you beligerent to the officer in the beginning and then he drew down on you? You're going to have to elaborate a bit more to make your story believable.
backinblack
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February 26, 2013
"Ok....... This is from 2007! So like dude asked before whens the last real police shooting in Tracy its a waste of our money like I said before TPD if this is your job,career like so many say then do what the rest of us do for our careers buy your own stuff to perform your job your career that YOU choose! our jobs dont call you looking for a new laptop or commuter car for any of us now does it."

This joins the ranks of one of the dumbest comments ever posted on this website. Sure, the police choose their profession on their own volition but their profession involves protecting others including you, and oft times putting thier live on the line to do so. They also have a much greater chance than most of us of not coming home at the end of a work day.

Geez, you may be a level headed intelligent person but your comment was not very well thought out, wise up.
Anotherface
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February 26, 2013
Bacbinblack you're right they are SUPPSED to protect us but thats a thing of the past especially these new generation cops in this day and age. When I'm a home owning tax paying citizen of this town with NO criminal history and I'm pulled over for a simple traffice violation (didn't use my turn signal) at GUNPOINT! Driving a newer vehicle with license plates good tags no tinted windows so it not like I'm driving around in some gangster looking car and after being detained at gunpoint for some time over s simple ticket and nothing else i asked the officer why all this was necessary and the only thing I'm told back is to shut up and that I have no rights until the officers was done doing his job!?! Wtf are you cops nuts???! I've never done anything to lose my rights! these are the same cops who seem to forget they are there to uphold the law NOT make their own and you want us to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to put new weapons in these ignorant cops hands??....... See this is where you need to wise up a little it's all fun and games and not a problem or big deal until you're the one with no rights staring down a 40 caliber side arm of Tracy's finest
code20
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February 26, 2013
Anotherface:

You admittedly stated you broke the law, (not using your turn single) and I admit it’s not a major crime that warrants being pulled out of your vehicle at gun point, but it’s a law nevertheless. I have been in a similar circumstance and having a shotgun, (and at that time), a .357 magnum pointed at me; it did leave a bite mark in the seat of my car! However, being told to “shut-up” and “you have no rights” is inexcusable. Word to the wise, I have found that it is best to keep ones mouth shut during times like these. The officer is in control, like or agrees with it or not, this is not the time or place to have a pissing contest to see who is right or wrong. In your case, it ‘sounds’ like the officer(s) involved were in the wrong, but we are reading ‘only your version’ of what occurred. The best thing, in my experience, is to wait until they (the police) are done with their investigation, and then respectfully ask for their name and get their badge number.

Please see next post
code20
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February 26, 2013
However, most often they have a name tag and their badge number is clearly shown. Promptly, after all is done, write all this info down in addition to time, place and what they said and you said. Get names, telephone numbers and if possible address of any witnesses if any. Next, go to the station and ask to speak to the supervising sergeant or commander. Comely and with respect tell him/her what occurred. If you are not satisfied, take it up to the next level – the chief if that needs to be done. There is often a public internal affairs department that will independently investigate these matters. I do not know if TPD has a “public” internal affairs where officer(s) as well a citizen(s) sit on a team together to hear and ‘independently investigate’ complaints on offices. If not, they should if TPD is as open and wanting to be community friendly as they seem. You do have rights at all times, but a wise man knows when to exercise them.
pcmiles
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February 28, 2013
Code20: The Tracy Police do not have any civilian oversight of their internal affairs investigations, and the (past) professional standards officer has lied outright to protect officers from criminal complaints. This is a violation of PC118.1 that is chargeable as a felony, and a misdemeanor violation of GC 6203(a). Documentation supporting this allegation, including police recordings of witness interviews, was hand delivered to each member of the City Council on Feb 5 (see http://tracy-ca.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=114). Chief Hampton did not sustain my complaint against the professional standards officer, making himself an accessory to a potential felony, and violating GC6203(a) himself.
Wobbley
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February 25, 2013
The Ruger PC Carbine would be a better match for the police force than the AR-15. The .223 is a high velocity round and, as the news so rightly says, the hollow point bullets leave wounds untreatable in surgery.

The Ruger PC-4 uses the same pistol grade ammo as the Glock .40 cal (S&W).

Also, the weapons could be refurbished and used for training purposes, since they would be identical to the new service pistols. That way, most of the training can be done with non-service weapons, saving the wear and tear on them.

.223 ammo is highly dangerous to persons down range of a gun battle.
Wobbley
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February 25, 2013
.40 S&W ammo is also highly available and cheaper than .223 ammo. It also works as well as a shotgun for 'pacifying' a close range target.

I didn't even know officers were allowed to load buckshot into a service shotgun?
knightinblue
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February 25, 2013
http://tracypress.com/view/full_story/2180969/article-Trouble-with-the-law?
knightinblue
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February 25, 2013
Wobbley, check the above link.
Anotherface
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February 25, 2013
Ok....... This is from 2007! So like dude asked before whens the last real police shooting in Tracy its a waste of our money like I said before TPD if this is your job,career like so many say then do what the rest of us do for our careers buy your own stuff to perform your job your career that YOU choose! our jobs dont call you looking for a new laptop or commuter car for any of us now does it.
ugotassburgers
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February 26, 2013
So like dude. There was a shooting in Santa Cruz today. You like to see widows crying? Why are you so totally obtuse?
Wobbley
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February 25, 2013
I don't understand, they have the money, there is a supply of semi-automatic pistols and rifles.

If they can't get ammo, join the crowd. Don't blame Adam Lanza, blame Dianne Feinstein and Mr. Lee.

It's only an assualt weapon if its in the hands of a private citizen?
Wobbley
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February 25, 2013
When is the last police shooting in Tracy? Ever?
code20
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February 26, 2013
The last big shoot-out I can recall was back in the early 1980’s when a well known farmer who was on the drug PCP drove a tractor over his father’s car while his father was in the vehicle. He than drove the tractor into town and over two or three more TPD cars all the while shooting at officers with a magnum handgun. A Tracy police officer shot the suspect with a Ruger .223 rifle hitting him twice. After the tractor finally broke down and stopped, the suspect came out of the cab shooting at officers again. A S.J. County Sheriff officer hit him with a shotgun blast while another office hit him with a .357 magnum subsequently killing him. I don’t want to wait for another shot-out like that where officers and the public could be injured or killed, than say, ‘sure wish we had bought better weapons.’

see next post

code20
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February 26, 2013
Tracy police need to standardise. The .223 and .40 cal is standard and TPD needs to stay in continuity with the CHP, FBI and S.J. County Sheriff’s. This was an issue a few years ago when bank robbers in L.A. were in a shoot-out with law enforcement. LAPD and various other police departments were involved. The robbers out-gunned the police and different departments used different calibre of weapons, so when officers ran out of ammo, other officers from different departments could not exchange ammo. Several officers were injured because of both issues. I for one want TPD who protects me, to have the best weapons – equipment and the ability to out-gun any threat that can harm the public. This also goes for Tracy Fire; they need the best and most up to date equipment to protect the safety and property of the community. Because law enforcement has first priority on weapons and ammo. And because they buy in such large bulk, they can save money by pooling their recourses and purchase with other departments. This is common practice with police vehicles, why not weapons and ammo?
fortheunderdog
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February 25, 2013
It's not a matter of whether the police will ever discharge their weapons, it more a matter of whether their weapons will be in working order when they're needed. A police officer will be fortunate if he/she nevers has to discharge their weapon during their career. Replacing old weapons is like replacing high-mileage police cars. It's something that just has to be done.
monsterdad3k
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February 23, 2013
I'm not so worried about the cops waving their guns in my face as I am about some trigger happy punk who has little experience firing guns. Although I am usually critical of things regarding the city, I believe this to be a good investment. An example of Gary Hampton doing what he was hired to do. When TPD shows up to handle some nutcase with a gun sure I want them to have the best weapons available to keep me and my family safe as well as the officer. I'm all for it.
drumhead
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February 24, 2013
Chances are that when the police actually do show up said nutcase has already done the damage and the TPD is going to be using a 98 cent Bic medium point pen to write the account from the surviving victims assuming there are any. No thanks, I'd rather rely on my own Glock 40, which is a fine weapon by the way, you realize there are videos online showing how they test these weapons and one of them is dropping it thousands of feet out of a plane....still worked. How often does the TPD actually discharge their firearms anyway? I'm willing to guess not enough to warrant replacing 100 perfectly good firearms. Of course that's assuming those clowns have heard of Hoppes #9 and actually clean them....
LuckyInTracyNot
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February 24, 2013
Well said monsterdad. I think the new chief is doing our town good, better than the other one, seems like it to me the cops are on this town like ugly on a ape. Before you barely saw them. Give them the guns they need, I know idiots in this town respect nothing and nobody unless it is packing and is willing to shoot. Parts wear out, rattle loose and I'm sure they need some new ones. For the ammunition, thank uncle joe biden and daddy o for the recent mass buy outs in fear of our rights being molested which by the way they are. Keep up the good work Tracy PD and we love ya Chief! I hope you are not one of them who is backing Obama on his gun control.
klv
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February 23, 2013
Question:

What happens to..

Or, where does the aging arsenal go?
code20
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February 26, 2013
Often, the gun seller has a “buy-back” program where they will credit the buyer by discounting the new guns; like trading in your old car. The seller then refurbishes the old guns and sells them to small departments or ‘private security companies’ who lack the funds to buy new. Another practice is to sell back to the “officer” if s/he wants to buy their old service weapon. As of December, CHP officers could buy their S &W .40 cal. service weapon for just over $600.00. Another practice is to sell to a low economic country like Mexico or a third-world country.
Anotherface
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February 23, 2013
Lol yeah that's what we need to do buy you cops new guns to point in our faces for when that chip on your shoulder swells up....are you kidding that the last thing we should be doing these cops are out of control around here especially the younger generation cops it's like handing a deer in headlights a gun. How about this Tracy pd if this is your job your career your means of living like so many of you puff out your chest and say then do what the rest of us do when it comes to our careers buy your OWN stuff to perform your job!
code20
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February 26, 2013
I understand your frustration and the feeling some officers are over zealous or have a “chip on their shoulder.” I will not argue with you on this point. However, if each officer has to buy their own weapon, there is no control over standardisation or quality control. Some officers may only be able to buy a lower quality .38 special revolver, or a mid-grade 9mm semi-automatic whereas anther officer may buy a high-end, top quality .40 calibre.

Years ago, it was common practice for officers to buy their own weapon and it became an issue. It did not work well and all too often with disastrous results. When in a shot-out, officers could not exchange ammo… a very dangerous and unfortunately deadly practice. I would prefer the peace of mined knowing that if I were in a position where my life depended on an officer discharging their weapon to protect your or my life that that weapon worked and had the knock-down power to take the subject out. Additionally, if that officer ran out of ammo, they would be able to use a fellow officer’s interchangeable ammo clip with reserve ammo and you or I would be able to go home safe.



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