Tulsa police, sheriff's office look to swap out weapons

Tuesday, February 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- After about a decade with the same sidearms, the Tulsa Police Department and Tulsa County sheriff's office want to shell out between $600 and $700 per officer for new ones.

Both agencies want to get rid of their Smith & Wessons semiautomatics and get new Glock semiautomatics -- .40-caliber for the police and .45-caliber for deputies.

Police chief Ron Palmer said switching out its 900 weapons for the new ones will cost just under $700 per officer. The move is tied to a one-third penny sales tax extension proposal, which goes before voters May 8.

When the police department bought its Smith & Wesson .40-calibers in 1992, they cost about $450 each, according to previous newspaper reports.

Chief Deputy Brian Edwards said Tulsa County sheriff's officers have carried the same .45-caliber Smith & Wessons since late 1989.

He said the county plans to buy 169 new Glocks over the next three years at a cost of around $620 each.

"The guns have served us well. It is just time to change them," he said.

While neither agency reported failures by their current weapons in the line of duty, Edwards said the new weapons could hold more rounds in their magazines and would have less recoil than the Smith & Wessons.

Tulsa police reported that 27 percent of its weapons had at least one malfunction during 1999 fall requalification.

Glocks are used by several law enforcement agencies in the region, including police departments in Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Ark., Wichita, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo.

Sgt. Pat Mullenix, the Oklahoma City Police Department's assistant rangemaster, said her department has been using Glock semiautomatics since 1990 and that officers will carry the guns for 20 years before being assigned new weapons.

"The Glock is so dependable that back in 1988 when we were testing them out, we dropped them out of helicopters and drove over them, but they still held up," Mullenix said.

Gerry Smith, director of the Law Enforcement Division for Smith & Wesson, said most law enforcement agencies get new guns about every 10 to 12 years.