The City of Knoxville, at the Jan, 22, monthly City Council Meeting, unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the Knoxville Police Department to upgrade their lethal force fire power. Patrol officers presently carry .40-caliber Glock duty weapon handguns. Over the next three months, they will upgrade to the more powerful .45-caliber Sig Sauer handgun. This will make KPD the first in Knoxville and adjacent counties to go to a .45-caliber duty weapon.
Police Chief David Rausch explained that the process was open for bids with Elmer Arms South, LLC being awarded the contract. KPD will make a payment of $13,500 to Elmer Arms South, LLC for 225 new .45-caliber Sig Sauer handguns and other specialty weapons requested by KPD.
The chief also explained that the negotiations included trading in the existing inventory of .40-caliber Glocks they now carry, over a period of three months and trading in other various handguns as they are seized, to Elmer Arms South in exchange for credit against purchases of the new guns. He added that the process of changing over to the new weapon would be an aggressive but gradual phase.
Chief Rausch said the guns traded in will go to a reputable distributer who will sell them only to authorized gun dealers who will sell them only to qualified gun buyers. “There are laws that restrict the way those guns are sold. There is a lot of talk going on now about gun legislation.”
Councilman Nick Della Volpe (Dist. 4) asked the chief, “Are gong to upgrade only the patrol officers; and what about the 600 other handguns in the department? If you have 430 licensed officers, why are you not upgrading all of them?”
The chief replied, “This is phase one. Phase two will involve the remainder of the firearms we will be transitioning from February through April. Phase two will involve more of the trade of the firearms and you will see that coming.”
Sixth District Councilman Daniel T. Brown asked, “Since we are discussing about a lot of guns in our society, I have seen some cities have buy back programs. Have we considered dong anything like that in the city?”
Chief Rausch responded that in fact they had done that in the past, but had found the guns that were turned in were in poor shape and we were paying for guns that didn’t even work. They were not the guns they wanted to get off the streets, So, they swayed away from that program. One councilperson used the term, “Cash for clunkers?”
The chief replied, “That’s about right. The program was not accomplishing what we were hoping to accomplish.”
Sixth District Councilman Daniel T. Brown asked, “Do you find that most, or well, a lot of people you are apprehending have much more powerful weapons than the officers, now?”
“Yes, we have noticed this has been a trend for about seven years, now. There are more high powered weapons out there. We transitioned several years ago to allow specially trained officers to carry rifles in the patrol cars. We did that because we were facing higher caliber weapons. We have several specially trained patrol officers who carry rifles and that meets the demand.”
An informal survey showed that most other area law enforcement departments are using the .40-caliber Glock and none have any immediate plans to go to a higher caliber.