Polk Deputies Switch Pistols
By Eva Kis
BARTOW - The bang-to-buck ratio is about to go up at the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
The agency is upgrading its standard-issue handgun to a .40-caliber Glock pistol, which officials say is more accurate, highly durable and will reduce user error. And they will cost about 40 percent less.
The new firearm is expected to be phased in sometime in March. Each deputy must undergo 16 hours of training to learn about the new gun and practice handling it.
"You're talking two different generations here," Deputy John Angleton said.
The Glocks will cost $350 per gun, compared with $560 for the current .45-caliber Smith & Wesson.
More than 60 percent of law enforcement agencies in the nation already use these weapons, said Sheriff Grady Judd.
Choosing the new weapon involved research and testing.
"We researched five different guns," said Deputy Larry Traylor, who has taught firearms training at the Sheriff's Office for 12 years.
In addition, opinion surveys were mailed out to deputies about them and had deputies test the guns being considered.
The Glock was finally chosen for several reasons.
One of its main advantages, officials agree, is that it holds more ammunition, at 18 rounds with an extended magazine, compared with 9 bullets in the Smith & Wesson.
"If we can't keep our deputies safe, we can't keep the community safe," Judd said.
Its larger sight makes for more accurate and quicker targeting, and the Glock clocks in at nearly 17 ounces lighter than the Smith & Wesson. "God forbid, if we have to shoot a firearm, we only want to hit what we shoot (at)," Judd said.
Along with a new, more secure holster, the Glock has a flashlight attachment on its barrel. It also will mean less of a chore when it comes to cleaning and maintenance - compared with the Smith & Wesson's 87 moving parts, the Glock has 35.
"Every time that part moves, there's a chance that part can break," Traylor said.
Special materials in its construction make the Glock resistant to scratches and rust, and it will fire even after being submerged in water.
"Around here in Polk County, that's a good thing," Traylor said.
Sheriff's deputies switched from revolvers to the 9 mm Smith & Wesson in 1988. Sometime around 1997-98, they changed to the current .45-caliber model.
"I love the (Glock)," Traylor said. "I think it's going to work great."
Eva Kis can be reached at email@example.com