Haven Police Ditch Glocks After Two Explode
Two of 90 Glock Model 37 pistols blew up in separate training incidents a year apart.
PAUL JOHNNSON | THE LEDGER
PART OF A BRASS SHELL CASING that exploded during target practice is seen above embedded in the magazine of a .45 caliber Glock handgun at the Winter Haven Police Department on Wednesday.
By Merissa Green
WINTER HAVEN | The Police Department is ditching $38,000 worth of guns after two .45-caliber GAP Glock Model 37 pistols exploded in separate training incidents a year a part, causing minor injuries to an officer and a cadet.
"I've been around 34 years in law enforcement, and we've seen malfunctioning with guns, but never seen it explode," Police Chief Mark LeVine said.
"When I've got two guns out of 90 mess up, something's wrong."
The department has not had any problems with the guns during use in the line of duty.
The force of the explosions came down through the bottom of the guns and blew the triggers off, LeVine said.
Police Officer Frank Scianimanico, 32, and then-cadet Rodrique Jean-Louis, 20, suffered bruised fingers in the separate incidents.
As a result, the department will try an all-metal gun as a possible replacement for the plastic Glock during weapons testing Tuesday and March 20.
LeVine issued a memo Feb. 1 to his officers saying that if anyone was uncomfortable carrying the Glock they could carry a personal weapon instead, as long as the gun meets the department's requirements.
The department tried to work out a solution with Glock. The gun's Georgia-based manufacturer offered to swap out the nearly 2 1/2-year-old guns if the department paid the company $10,000.
But LeVine said that is unfair.
"I personally question if it should cost us anything at all," the chief said.
A Glock spokesman said the company is aware of the Winter Haven incidents, but hasn't had the opportunity to examine the guns yet.
"Without looking at the pistol, there's no way for us to make a determination," said Glock spokesman Carlos Guevara.
The first incident occurred in January 2007 when a Glock exploded while being used by Jean-Louis, a former cadet the department was sponsoring at the Polk Community College Kenneth C. Thompson Institute of Public Safety, which trains prospective police officers.
Department officials dismissed the incident as the fault of bad ammunition, and so did Glock.
The second incident, the one involving Scianiamancio, was this January during training at the department's shooting range at the Winter Haven Airport.
"We had another explode in the same fashion," LeVine said. "We've only got 90 guns, and two failed. It has caused a certain amount of uneasiness."
The issue seems to be with the gun, which only Glock makes, LeVine said.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office uses a different Glock, the .40-caliber Model 22 pistol, but there haven't been any incidents with it, said spokeswoman Carrie Rodgers.
The Sheriff's Office switched last year to the Glocks after using Smith & Wessons. The Glocks cost the agency $350 per gun, compared with $560 for the .45-caliber Smith & Wessons deputies were using.
"They're easier to fire, more accurate, and they hold more ammunition," Rodgers said.
Lake Alfred Police Chief Art Bodenheimer said he would never let his officers use a Glock after he saw a video demonstration of one being partially disassembled after being jammed.
His officers use Smith & Wessons instead, because it is an all-metal gun, compared to the plastic Glock, he said.
"I'm not a Glock enthusiast," Bodenheimer said.
The Winter Haven Police Department isn't the only one that has had problem with Glocks. At least two other law enforcement agencies have reported issues.
elsewhere in u.s.
Two .45-caliber Glock Model 21 pistols exploded in the hands of two officers at the Portland Police Department, according to a 2004 article in The Oregonian newspaper. That department then switched to 9 mm Glocks.
In 2006, The Oregonian reported an officer who was injured when his gun exploded filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against Glock and the ammunition manufacturer.
In Pennsylvania, a training officer with the Upper Darby Township Police Department said his department used to carry the Glock Model 21 before it started jamming.
The department is now testing a different model of Glock. "We can't get a reason why it keeps happening," he said.
Guevara said Glock's guns aren't defective, and malfunctioning incidents at other agencies are attributed to ammunition or maintenance of the guns.
And the fact that the Portland Police Department switched to a different Glock model is an indication of how good Glock guns are, Guevara said.
Haven Police Ditch Glocks After Two Explode | TheLedger.com
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