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Glocks required for Chicago PD recruits

By Annie Sweeney
The Chicago Sun-Times

CHICAGO — For the first time in recent department history, Chicago cops training at the academy are using the same weapon -- a Glock.

Recruits in the current class were required to purchase a Glock 17 or Glock 19 and use it throughout their 18-month probationary period, department officials said.

What happens after the officers are done with probation is still "under review,'' said Sgt. Raymond Hamilton.

"It's being considered and researched,'' he said. "We will accept input throughout the department.''

Chicago Police officers -- who buy their own weapons -- currently choose between six different manufacturers of handguns, including Smith & Wesson and Beretta.

A Glock is among the choices, but it is now mandatory for the recruits.

"It's one of the most widely used law enforcement guns for a number of reasons,'' Hamilton said. "The ergonomics, the ability to shoot it well -- accurately and safely. It's lightweight.''

Supt. Jody Weis made an argument for a uniform weapon in March, speaking at the Union League club.

Current sworn members will not be affected by any of the changes, and they will still be allowed to choose any gun they want from the approved manufacturers.

Hamilton said the Glock is the choice of nearly half of the recruits at the academy and that it is the easiest handgun to teach new officers how to fire "accurately and safely.'' He also said it's among the less-expensive handguns.

Hamilton said the Glock was test-fired in 2007 when it was added to the list of approved weapons.

Union officials declined to comment, saying the change is currently the topic of negotiations. "It's in talks,'' said Fraternal Order of Police president Mark Donahue.

While other departments use the Glock, the weapon has also been the subject of some controversy.

In 2005, the Los Angeles Police Department ordered its officers to stop using the Glock 21 -- a different model than the one Chicago is using -- after reports that the weapon misfired dozens of times in training and firearms qualifying sessions.

The company later recalled the weapon because it had produced a faulty batch of guns, said Randall Ojena, who is in charge of weapons for the LAPD. Today, the LAPD standard issue weapon is the Glock 22.

The FBI also issues a Glock, a Chicago field office spokesman said.

Hamilton said he was not aware of any "bona fide'' concerns over misfires.

"We're very satisfied that the Glocks are a very safe weapon,'' Hamilton said. "The fact that we are going to one weapon allows our firearms training unit to provide even more effective training."

Copyright 2008 The Chicago Sun-Times

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