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Ga. Police Upgrade to .40-Caliber Sidearms to Counter Criminals

Ga. Police Upgrade to .40-Caliber Sidearms to Counter Criminals

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via YellowBrix

January 26, 2010

DeKalb’s SWAT team, which is armed with MP5 9 mm submachine guns, is usually called out any time officers encounter suspects with high-caliber weapons.

Patrol officers, however, have the option of increasing their firepower.

DeKalb allows an officer to purchase his or her own AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle similar to an M16. The officer can carry it on duty only after passing a specific 40-hour training class and qualifying at the county’s range, O’Brien said.

Firearms experts say most law-enforcement agencies across the nation are moving toward the .40 caliber because it can stop a threat more effectively.

“This bullet is slower than the 9 mm but is bigger and has more impact,” DeKalb Deputy Chief Diane Loos said.

Bullets expand like an umbrella when they strike tissue. Because the new bullets are larger - the 9 mm is about a third of an inch in diameter, and the .40-caliber is slightly wider - they go deeper and cause a larger wound, according to John Finor, first vice president of the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners.

“The .40 will have a much larger projectile,” Finor said. “Your chances of stopping an aggressive action or someone who is a threat is much greater.”

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Finor, who retired from Philadelphia police after 32 years, serves as the firearms examiner for the Montgomery County, Pa., district attorney, testing bullets for about 50 police agencies. Finor said many law-enforcement agencies across the nation began looking at increasing firepower in the late 1990s after Los Angeles police officers were outgunned during a bank robbery and shootout.

“For firepower, we’re seeing lots of patrol officers starting to carry AR-15s and other patrol rifles because of the threat of coming in contact with the assault rifle,” Finor said. “When you see major cities allowing officers to carry patrol rifles, that speaks volumes about the crime situation.”

O’Brien said his officers routinely come in contact with assault rifles and other “serious” weapons.

In September, DeKalb officers arrested a man who had slipped out of handcuffs and stolen a Duluth police cruiser. When apprehended, he was carrying an AR-15 that he had stolen from the Duluth officer, police said.

“The criminal element has more powerful weapons. We want equal firepower. It’s just a sign of the time,” said Larry Johnson, the DeKalb County Commission’s presiding officer. “If it protects one officer, it’s a worthy investment.”

In 2009, 47 officers were shot and killed in the line of duty in the United States - a 24 percent increase from the previous year, according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.

In April, three Pittsburgh officers were killed and two wounded after a man armed with an AK-47 opened fire during a standoff.

A month earlier, three officers died in Oakland, Calif., when a suspect opened fire with an assault rifle.

“We’ve been lucky that we haven’t had any casualties, but we want to be prepared,” O’Brien said.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    great choice

  • Oc16_001_max50


    over 4 years ago


    The change is a good move for now. I did not think any departments still used the 9mm. The bigger the better, I always say. Also important, can you hit something when you shoot at it? Regular practice at shooting is very very important. It could save your life someday. Try it.

  • Warrior_knight_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Go big or stay home! The truly bad guys are stopped only one way and bigger is better. Went through a tactical course. Some shooting 9mm had trouble knocking the steel re-sets down, took 2 or more shots. My 40 took one. Hit'em hard and hit'em often.

  • Car6_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Glad to hear that the officers got to have a say in the process. Glad to hear that they are moving up to a stronger caliber.

  • Dscn1017_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I like the Glock. It's been our dept. side arm for about 10 years. I have 3 personal Glocks in 9mm, .40, and .45. Like them all. the .45 is the only full size Glock and it's very nice to shoot. The Compact .40 is a kicker compared to the 9mm and doesn't seem to shoot nearly as accurately with about 600 rounds through it. The 9mm shoots like a .22. Depends on the person is my point. I shoot a H K .45 USP (2001, variant 3) when shooting competition and love the thing. The accuracy and recoil are super.

  • White_shirt_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I agree with the others comments on the .45 caliber. I always thought my state was behind the times.

  • Blue_line_decal_max50


    over 4 years ago


    iHenry, probably, it's a liability issue with the department having to have oficers shoot their own training course with the weapon. If they didn't have them qual on the state or department course a lawsuit would definitely be filed if the officer ever had to use the weapon. And, of course military style training would probably be a bit different than police style firearms training.

  • Dcp_0435_max50


    over 4 years ago


    40 hours of training to carry the AR-15... I wonder if prior service infantry still have to take that training? The military training is much more intense and much longer than the 40 hours of civilian training. :)

  • 014_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Cocked and Locked .45 and training, how can you go wrong??? OK I do like my .357 Sig...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    S&W? I won't be too critical because we carried S&W for nearly 15 yrs and I had no problem with it. I really liked the magazine disconnect. Over the last year we transitioned to the Glock 9mm with the option to purchase our own Glock .40 or .45 to carry if we wish. Every department has their own "self proclaimed ballistics expert" in the range who makes these decisions. So now the .40 is the present day "best option?" I wonder if our armorers feel like they made the wrong choice now.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    Replacing 20 yr old sidearms makes sense, and it seems the department is getting a good deal. 40 S&W is a upgrade if for no other reason than bullet selection, fortys have a proven track record. The part about criminals out gunning them is either misinformation if not disinformation.

  • Annual_line_inspection_035_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Handgun is a reactionary defensive weapon, if you know there is a gunfight....bring a rifle. 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP the wound channel and energy difference are not substantial enough to ignore the number one factor...shot placement. Spend more time and money training less emphasis should be placed on equipment. The most dangerous gun in the world should be the one in your hand regardless of calibre.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    The ar15 is a great weapon and when an acog or eotech is added it is a awesome weapon

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Why didn't they go to the 45 acp instead of the 40 cal.

  • 800px-gadsden_flag


    over 4 years ago


    This article is full of so much misinformation, it's pathetic. First:

    "The department’s 9 mm Berettas were more than 20 years old and no longer manufactured."

    WHAT?!? Where the heck did they come up with that one???

    Next, they talk about all of the military "assault rifles" and "street sweepers" the officers are encountering, but then they only point to one case where the "assault rifle" encountered was one stolen from a police patrol car, and one other. IN PHILADELPHIA. Politicians, the media, and unfortunately many times cops as well, distort the real danger of firearms in society and use it to scare the public into supporting gun control legislation that simply doesn't work.

    On a positive note, I am glad to see that the agency decided to enter the 21st century and upgrade to a better caliber round.

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