By Mike LaBella
---- — GROVELAND — It may not be the biggest police department around, but Groveland’s law enforcement officers have taken the lead in arming themselves with the latest in powerful handguns.
They said they weren’t looking to make a change from their nearly 10-year-old Glock .40 caliber semi-automatic pistols, but the deal they were offered on the larger .45 caliber weapon was too good to pass up. And, it didn’t cost the town any money, they said.
”We are the first police department in the area to do this and one of very few in the entire state,” police Chief Robert Kirmeleciwz said. “Any time that I can obtain new and better equipment for state of the art technology for my officers, at minimal cost to the town, I seize the opportunity. This is one of those times.”
It’s been more than 20 years since Groveland’s officers traded in their “old fashioned” .38 caliber revolvers for what the bad guys were using: sleek 9mm semi-automatic pistols that were more accurate, held more rounds, and could fire more rounds in less time.
Then about 10 years ago they changed over to Glock model 22 and model 23 .40 caliber pistols, said Patrolman Edwin Fournier, the department’s firearms instructor and armorer.
”The 9 mm is a fast and effective round, but not as effective as a heavier, slower moving .40 or .45,” Fournier said. “If you’re wearing a vest and you’re hit with a .40 caliber, it’s like being punched in the chest. But if you get hit with a .45, it’s like getting kicked in the chest as it’s a bigger, heavier bullet.” Fournier said Groveland’s 20 officers are now carrying the .45 caliber Glock 21SF as their official duty weapon.”It’s one of those things where if you ever had to use it you want the more effective round to protect the officer and the public,” Fournier said.
As the department’s armorer, it’s his job to recommend what kind of weapons officers in Groveland carry on the job. He said the department wasn’t looking to make a change, until he heard that good deals were being offered by gun manufacturers.
”The chief has always been a .45 fan and a fan of Glocks, so he said I could contact them,” Fournier said.
He said the Glock company immediately put him in touch with a distributor.
”We explained that our budget is tight, and that we had to stay within our budget,” Fournier said.
He said the distributor, AmChar of Rochester, N.Y. worked closely with Glock to provide Groveland’s Police Department with special pricing.
”They let us trade in our Glocks for new ones, and at no cost to the town whatsoever,” Fournier said.
He said some officers who collect guns kept their .40 caliber Glock pistols and paid a discounted price for a new .45 caliber Glock, while others traded in their pistols. Guns turned in by the public as well as guns that were used in criminal cases and which are not allowed to be returned to their owners were also traded in as part of the deal, resulting in no out-of-pocket expense to the town.
”The only authorized guns are now the .45s,” Fournier said.
To sweeten the deal, Fournier said the Glock company took all of the department’s .40 caliber ammunition it had in stock and swapped it for what he said was the slightly more expensive .45 caliber ammunition, and at no cost to the department.
”Most companies would take your old ammo and ask for the difference,” Fournier said. “They just said, ‘here you go’ for our duty and practice ammo.’”
Kirmelewicz said his department would not have received the deal that it did without Fournier’s diligence and patience in making it come to fruition.
Fournier said the first batch of new guns arrived in June, and that officers who received them qualified in their use. The last batch of guns arrived last week and now all of Groveland’s officers are qualified in their use.
”The consensus is they like the .45s over the .40s as the recoil is smoother and more manageable than the .40, which kind of snaps as it’s a heavier gun,” Fournier said.
”Georgetown has the new Glock .45s on order and Haverhill is looking into them,” Fourner said. “There’s also a move across the state with agencies looking into the .45s as well.”