Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Guns of Jerome: History of Law Enforcement Firearms

Article by Mike Hatfield, Chief of Jerome City Fire Department

The Guns of Jerome

This month’s article is from an interview with Sergeant Duane Rubink with the Jerome Police Department. In our discussion we talked about the evolution of firearms in the Police Department and the logic behind the arsenal maintained by each squad car in an effort to better protect the community. Long gone are the days of a saddle mounted Model 94 lever action rifle and hip holstered Colt six shooters. We now see an evolution of multiuse shotguns, automatic rifles and automatic sidearm’s carried in a multitude of shoulder, hip, leg and waist mounted holsters.

For the most part, the recent innovations in firearms have been derived from military applications and confirmed in the battlefield. Benchmark incidents in the public such as the urban terrorism experience at the Columbine High School and the Hollywood Bank Robbery and subsequent shootouts have created a different environment for law enforcement to consider in their attempts to protect the public. The need to arm law enforcement to meet modern day challenges as well as the need to have more discriminating applications of force have created a radical change in the methods, types, and procedures utilized to create an efficient and practical application of deadly force and non-lethal applications as well.

What was considered the tradition ten or even five years prior is now dated technology. Service revolvers such as the six shot Smith & Wesson in .38 and .357 calibers have now given way to 10 mm and .40, .45 caliber lightweight Glocks and Smith& Wesson automatics with magazine capacities of eighteen rounds. What was once the norm to carry a Remington four round 12 gauge shotgun loaded with slugs and buck shot has now given way to AR-15 and MP-15’s with 223 caliber, large capacity magazines with high velocity rounds designed for various applications of stopping power and penetration. Shotguns are still carried but do not have the capacity, accuracy and reach of the modern long gun and are more suited as a platform for the delivery of less-lethal and non-lethal alternatives such as pepper balls, bean bags and tear gas.

With changes in technology, we also see changes in training and qualifications with each of the firearms utilized in modern law enforcement. Typically, each officer qualifies once a year with all firearms they are expected to use as well as range practice six times a year with at least one night firing drill.

The police department of today is worlds apart from the police department of yesterday with constant changes in all aspects of the profession. Staying abreast of firearm innovations and applications is only one part of the knowledge base required of the officers of the Jerome Police Department.

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