Upgraded guns for Troopers

While we are certainly pleased with the announcement by the State Police that new Glock firearms will be purchased, our brave and heroic Troopers should have been in possession of better weapons years ago. The PBA had advocated for updated, more powerful weaponry long before the State Police finally decided to form a committee in March following the death of Trooper Andrew J. Sperr.  

Nevertheless, the committee mentioned in the State Police press release – which the PBA participated in – conducted excellent work. We hope this committee remains active and addresses other Trooper safety issues, notably our protective vests, some of which are expired beyond the warranty date and in some cases even deformed.

“This year the public has seen how dangerous the job of a New York State Trooper is, as four of our Troopers were killed in the line of duty who while serving the public in this state and overseas with the military,” said PBA President Daniel M. De Federicis. “The times have changed and the criminals are better armed than ever before. The need for updated and more powerful weapons is paramount to the safety of our Troopers, who put their lives on the line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to serve and protect the public.”

More than 6,000 active and retired, uniformed members of the New York State Police from the rank of Trooper through the rank of Major are represented by the State Troopers PBA.

Below is an article from the Times Union newspaper of Albany about the State Police announcement and the PBA’s reaction.

By CAROL DeMARE, Staff writer

First published: Friday, November 10, 2006

ALBANY — State Police next spring will issue more powerful weapons that will bring down assailants while insuring troopers’ safety, officials said Thursday.

The purchase of 5,400 Glock Model 37 service guns is costing $2.2 million or about $415 for each weapon, State Police spokesman Sgt. Kern Swoboda said.

The shooting death earlier this year of Trooper Andrew "A.J." Sperr in Chemung County by a bank robber was the catalyst to upgrade the pistols.

The Glock 37 is a .45 G.A.P. caliber which stands for Glock Automatic Pistol — the manufacturer’s designation for a unique .45 caliber round specific to the Model 37. The pistol is semiautomatic.

A generic .45-caliber round fits any .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol made by various manufacturers, but in this case only special ammunition will fit the gun.

Currently on order, the weapons are expected to be distributed next spring and replace the Glock Model 17, a 9mm pistol. Troopers will undergo training in the higher-powered weapon.

Superintendent Wayne E. Bennett said the agency "strives to provide the best equipment for our people. The present Glock 17 has performed well … for the past 17 years. After several shooting incidents in recent years," including the death of Sperr, the agency "chose to evaluate other options."

Sperr was shot four times on March 1 on a deserted country road after pulling over the robber’s car for a minor traffic infraction. The incident led to the formation of a committee to evaluate the effectiveness of the Glock 17.

The new weapon is designed to "cause immediate incapacitation and maximize officer safety," Swoboda said. "We had to have superior stopping power, and we didn’t want the level of accuracy to be compromised," he said.

While pleased with the announcement, "our brave and heroic troopers should have been in possession of better weapons years ago," the troopers Police Benevolent Association said in a release. "The PBA had advocated for updated, more powerful weaponry long before" the March committee was formed, it said.

Four troopers were killed this year in the line of duty, including one serving in Iraq. "The times have changed and criminals are better armed than ever before," PBA President Daniel M. De Federicis said. "The need for updated and more powerful weapons is paramount to the safety of our troopers."

A 45-caliber handgun typically has a large frame, but in this case, it will have a medium frame, Swoboda said. "We found all Glock pistols are essentially the same weapon," he said. "This is similar to the Glock 17, both operationally and dimensionally, so when it came to training considerations, we found the transition will be less challenging."