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Holyoke police chief seeks switch to Glock firearms

By Associated Press, 3/23/2003 17:29

HOLYOKE, Mass. (AP) Holyoke Police Chief Anthony R. Scott has proposed arming officers with the Austrian-made Glock semiautomatic pistol because of complaints about ammunition misfeeds, broken firing pins and jamming in the department's Smith & Wesson firearms.

Scott described the complaints in a letter to Mayor Michael J. Sullivan and said his concerns had not been adequately addressed by the Springfield-based gunmaker, despite repeated correspondence.

The recommendation is based on a study by the department's top two gun experts, who relied on an FBI report concluding the Glock is more dependable, Scott said.

''I can only rely on experts, and they tell me the Glock .45 (caliber) is a superior weapon,'' Scott told the Union-News of Springfield.

Sullivan said he read Scott's memo and will support the request.

''He is the department head, and I have to go on his experience,'' Sullivan said. ''Far be it from me to jeopardize officer safety.''

Smith & Wesson spokesman Ken Jorgenson, reached at home Sunday afternoon, said he was unfamiliar with the complaints and could not immediately comment.

Scott said 15 officers training for the new Emergency Response Team last October experienced 70 failures of their Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistols.

''These weapons were cleaned and inspected each day at the conclusion of training; however, these problems continued,'' Scott said.

Last October, Scott complained to the company's president at the time, Robert Smith. The company replaced 15 of the handguns with newer models. But problems persisted, including trigger seizures and broken firing pins, Scott said.

After writing to two other top Smith & Wesson officials, Scott received an offer from the company last month: it would sell the city 150 new model 99-45 pistols without holsters for just under $26,000.

Scott asked lead firearms instructor Lt. Arthur R. Monfette Jr. and department armorer Patrolman Kenneth Moriarty to do some research. They concluded that Georgia-based Glock Inc., a unit of Glock GmbH of Austria, could provide a more reliable weapon, citing a recent FBI evaluation of pistols.

Scott reported Glock had offered 150 .45-caliber pistols at $155 apiece, for a total of $24,845, and new holsters for an additional $6,435, and wrote that an existing federal grant would pay for it.

''It won't cost the taxpayers anything at all,'' Scott said Friday. ''It's really about officer safety.''
 
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