Why the police shouldn't use Glocks

Discussion in 'General Firearms Discussion' started by tallbump, May 28, 2015.

  1. tallbump

    tallbump Supporting Member

    This is an Op Ed that ran in the LA Times a few weeks ago. Thought it was pretty interesting

    To summarize, most officers don't train enough and the light trigger pull and lack of manual safety causes too many accidents


    Timothy Stansbury died in a New York housing project stairwell in 2004 because he startled a police officer. The officer's surprise at encountering Stansbury caused the officer's hand to clench and his weapon to fire. The death was ruled accidental by a grand jury, though the officer was later stripped of his gun for the remainder of his career.

    Akai Gurley died in another New York housing project stairwell last fall. A rookie officer with his finger on the trigger of his pistol tensed as he pushed open a stuck door; the added pressure on the trigger caused his weapon to fire a shot down the stairwell. The round ricocheted off the wall to strike Gurley. Though the shot wasn't intentional and the officer didn't even know Gurley was there, the death has been ruled a criminal homicide, and the officer's trial is pending.

    In both of these incidents, the police officers were using the same weapon, a Glock: a polymer-frame, striker-fired pistol with a short trigger pull and no external safeties.

    It's a popular handgun for law enforcement in New York and beyond. The Los Angeles Police Department has a number of firearms approved for use, including nine Glock models. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department recently began issuing new recruits the Smith & Wesson M&P, a handgun with a short trigger pull that operates in much the same way.

    Glock uses the marketing term “Safe Action” to describe its firing-pin system, but the truth is that Glocks are accident-prone. They contributed to more than 120 accidental discharges in the Washington Metropolitan Police Department from 1988 to 1998. Anecdotes of increased accidental shootings have followed the pistol for more than 30 years wherever it has been adopted by police officers and citizens alike.

    Just last month, Ocala, Fla., Police Officer Jared Forsyth was shot and killed by a fellow officer after a Glock training session. The fellow officer failed to do a chamber check before pulling the trigger as part of the handgun's normal disassembly procedure. When the gun fired, the bullet went through a gap in Forsyth's body armor. Despite the efforts of paramedics to keep him alive, the young officer died on the way to a hospital.

    In terms of mechanical design, there are few flaws with Glock pistols. If a law enforcement officer, soldier or citizen does exactly what they are supposed to do all of the time with cyborg certainty, there will be no problems with the Glock or other popular pistols mimicking its basic design. Unfortunately, “RoboCop” is only a movie, and humans are liable to make similar mistakes over and over again.

    The underlying problem with these pistols is a short trigger pull and the lack of an external safety. In real-world encounters, a short trigger pull can be lethal, in part because a significant percentage of law enforcement officers — some experts say as high as 20% — put their finger on the trigger of their weapons when under stress. According to firearms trainers, most officers are completely unaware of their tendency to do this and have a hard time believing it, even when they're shown video evidence from training exercises.

    For more than 35 years, officer-involved accidental discharges with Glocks and Glock-like weapons have been blamed on a lack of training or negligence on the part of the individual cops. What critics should be addressing instead is the brutal reality that short trigger pulls and natural human reflexes are a deadly combination.

    Though short trigger-pull guns dominate the law enforcement market, they aren't the only game in town. A number of major and minor agencies use guns with much longer double-action triggers that are just as easy to fire deliberately but that are much harder to fire accidentally. The half-inch difference of trigger travel may not sound like much, but it can be the difference between life and death.

    We'll continue to see more Timothy Stansburys, more Akai Gurleys and more Jared Forsyths until law enforcement agencies and city governments quit listening to hype about how wonderful these systems are from the companies selling the weapons, and start caring more about the lives of their officers and citizens.

    Payouts to settle lawsuits over accidental shootings with these weapons have cost cities millions of dollars. Washington, D.C., for instance, paid out $1.4 million in a single six-month period in 1998. And the casualties and lawsuits keep mounting.

    Bob Owens is the editor of BearingArms.com. He is an alumnus of Gunsite Academy, a rifle marksmanship instructor with Project Appleseed and the author of the short ebook "So You Want to Own a Gun."
  2. I can somewhat go along with the contention that green officers may be more likely to pull the trigger than officers, or others who have dealt with high stress situations on a basis over years.

    As I stated before under stress because of fight or flight, muscles tighten, the jaw clenches the teeth, and the hands form fists to fight. Often times that puts a finger on the trigger without the person realizing it, even if they have been trained to keep it off the trigger.

    IMO Glocks have to light, and short of a trigger pull for the novice.

  3. Think1st

    Think1st Supporting Member

    I am curious about the prevalence of such mishaps in Western European police forces. The Glock seems to be a staple in many of their military and police forces and has been for years. I met a couple of Norwegians, in fact, who we're using Gen 2 G17s, in fact. That tells you how long Glocks have been favored in the region.

    I'm the last person to want to mimic other countries' ways of doing business, but if they aren't complaining, and they would seem to be the ones who most likely would, then why are so many American writers? Training really is the key to safe weapon handling. If anyone feels that green police officers shouldn't use Glocks, then instead of choosing a different pistol, the departments should just train them better.

    USPSA matches are particularly stressful when one first starts shooting them. Running around with a loaded weapon, trying to engage a series of broadly-arrayed and sometimes-moving targets is pretty wild the first few times. Nevertheless, I and every other new shooter I saw kept our booger hooks indexed when we weren't aiming at targets. If we could do it under those circumstances, surely others could do likewise.

    Furthermore, many military personnel carry the M9 in condition 1 with the hammer down and the safety off on deployments. I didn't, nor did I see anyone else, accidently pop rounds off when in stressful situations with it.

    This article is just parroting the risk-averse attitude that is so prevalent nowadays. Don't overburden tools with unnecessary devices. Just follow the basic safety rules.
  4. lsi1

    lsi1 Member

    i was gonna post this but glock tends to take quite a bit of crap around here. The author of the article writes for a rather wellknown gun website although the name of it escapes me now. he was on a podcast called this week in guns last week defending his article to actual gun people instead of just a hit piece in the la times. His basic contension is that police agencies should scrap their glocks instead of forcing officers to take training they will solve the finger on the trigger issue with new gear instead. This is unfortunately a budgetary requirement new gun $500 vs hours of officers training who knows. I think he mentioned some mumbers about how many officers even after training revert to finger on the trigger under stress and how many automatic responses could cause your hand to clinch up on the object your holding.

    Being a glock guy i firmly understand the pistol and its shorter trigger but many of the officers cases cited above are from areas that do not use the stock 5.5lb glock trigger and instead they add the NY trigger package which takes the glock trigger well up over 8lbs of pressure before it breaks. What the author purposes is guns with heavier longer triggers which since we all know that most cops are expert marksman should be no problem when it actually comes to getting rounds on target? sure we could go to something with a DA/SA trigger but that certainly offers no trouble at all. certainly 50 rounds twice a year should easily be able to keep officers proficient on any trigger system their department adopts.

    I wouldn't think the lack of a safety is the issue here because i would think any training would have the officer sweeping off the safety as he or she draws their gun from the holster.

    The above post was meant to be sarcastic and not directed at any of our fine leo's present here but to rather the cops who only ever use their sidearms during qualifications.
  5. Think1st

    Think1st Supporting Member

    One thing that the author also leaves out is that equipment can not, and never should, take the place of training.
  6. lsi1

    lsi1 Member

    i absolutely agree with you.
    The problem is too many police departments are underfunded as is and training $ are harder to come by. Like many things in life it comes down to who is balancing the books.
  7. Think1st

    Think1st Supporting Member

    When I was in SC, I was talking with the RSO at the range, one day, and he told me that he saw a uniformed police officer buying ammo at Wal Mart, one day. When he jokingly asked her if budget cuts were forcing officers to buy their own ammo, she told him that they only have to if they fail to qualify too many times. Then they have to buy their own for successive attempts.

    If she had had more training, there would have been no reason for her to repeatedly attempt to qualify. It's a damn shame that so many non-LE or non-military are more competent with firearms than the ones who are paid to be. I am a firm believer that training makes up for inferior equipment. The bean counters should look at what expenditures on new toys they can cut so that they can afford some more regular advanced weapons training for officers. In the end, it would save more of their lives and those of the people they are sworn to serve.
  8. tallbump

    tallbump Supporting Member

    The tactical trainer I know for the security company at the Federal Court House that is contracted through the DHS HATES the longer, harder trigger pulls on some pistols. For the reasons mentioned.

    And, although they qualify twice a year, some of the guys just aren't gun guys. There are officers who only take their gun out once or twice a year to qualify.

    I am not syaing they should go away from Glocks. Obviously, more training will be ideal. But that probably isn't a practical solution for many agencies.

    I don't know what the answer is, and I am not saying the author is right, just thought it was an interesting read.

    I love the comments here so far, good discussion
  9. talon

    talon the banned wagon

    The way I see it, "training" is a simple matter of going to the range and practicing. I don't know about all departments, but my father and brother are both cops and I have many cop friends, say 8 different departments. All have free range access. All get a set number of free rounds per month to use for practice. There's zero excuse to not qualify, other than pure laziness and not taking advantage of said free range time and ammo.
    The glock flaws aside,training and learning those flaws makes them easier to work around. shy of holding an officers hand and walking them to the range, there's no excuse to not be able to qualify.
    Last edited: May 28, 2015

    TNTRAILERTRASH Supporting Member

    Let's face it, some cops just aren't very familiar with firearms.
  11. Not2ManyGuns

    Not2ManyGuns Member

    The police departments should encourage their officers, when while off duty, and watching a movie on their TV to hold their empty gun with their trigger finger straight along the side of the gun - occasionally aiming the gun - but never touching the trigger during the movie. Do this often enough, over a period of several months, it becomes natural and habit forming; almost, to the point that there is no longer a subconscious desire to touch the trigger.
  12. I would suggest that the departments provide blue guns for this type of exercise.
  13. moona11

    moona11 King of you Monkeys Lifetime Supporter

    The issue is not the gun its the Officers not training with their weapons. Just like the general public some are sacred of teh mean little bang bang. If they want to train they can when ever they get the chance. Some departments pay for ammo some do not. It is up to the officer to train and become proficient in use of force. The NY triggers for glock are Sh!t also. Thats a top reason that they cant shoot for sh!t there in a stressful situation.
  14. Surfnayl

    Surfnayl Member

    Stress and adrenaline can also affect fine motor skills like the ones needed to operate a manual safety. This could cause delayed action of the officer needing to protect his life or someone else's. Yes you can train to work the safety and hope muscle memory works when it is time but no one really knows how they are going to react in that split second instance of being faced with life and death.
  15. How many on here remember the primers soaked with penetrating oil problems from years ago? I've known cops to carry the same load from qualification to next years qualifications.
  16. moona11

    moona11 King of you Monkeys Lifetime Supporter

    I remember to well. They now change at least yearly as they have to shoot what they carry on the first Qual;-)
  17. MaryB

    MaryB Supporting Member

    the cops were at the range when I was there they were using one half the pistol range so I asked to use the other half. They said fine go ahead...

    I was shooting away and suddenly noticed silence from the other side. They had been shooting at the 25 yard flip down plates and mostly missing, I had just ran them twice in a row and was resetting. They hurriedly packed up and said maybe we should practice a different day...

    They were horrible shots! None of the 4 could hit more than 1 plate out of 5. When they looked over at me I just shrugged and said "practice"
  18. When some have hi cap guns, why worry about accuracy.
  19. Not2ManyGuns

    Not2ManyGuns Member

    My cousin's daughter is a cop in an upscale village. She said she uses a .45 caliber Kimber . I asked her a couple questions about the her pistol. After not being able to answer the questions satisfactorily, she admitted she is not into guns.:rolleyes: