Knoxville City Council's agenda for Tuesday night includes a resolution that would pull the trigger on a plan to buy hundreds of new handguns for Knoxville Police officers.
Since 2002 the Knoxville Police Department has armed its officers with the .40 caliber Glock. Now it wants to reload the KPD arsenal with a more powerful .45 caliber Sig Sauer P220 handgun.
KPD's chief firearms instructor Shane Watson said officers conducted thorough tests on a variety of guns to help the department get a grip on its new weapon of choice.
"We took the firearm and we fired over 3,000 rounds through the weapons without cleaning them," said Watson. "We had over 100 officers come in and fire the guns to do an evaluation of it.
Almost without exception the gun [Sig P220] was seen as being a much more reliable and much more shoot-able firearm."
Watson said the consensus among officers was the Sig provided better ergonomics. More importantly, accuracy improved with the Sig compared to the Glock.
"We had much tighter groupings [on the target]," said Watson.
"Their [the officers'] accuracy got extremely better," said KPD Chief David Rausch. "The other thing I like about it is the .45 caliber is a stronger stopping power [than the .40 Glock]."
The Sig .45 caliber packs a bigger punch and also carries a bigger initial price tag than the Glock. At $990 a piece, rearming officers with 225 of the new gun will cost more than $220,000. However, Rausch said the city will only have to shell out $13,500 because the vendor has agreed to let KPD trade in its old Glocks. In this case the bidding vendor is Elmer Arms South, LLC, of Dandridge.
"What we also look at is our replacement costs. Glock recommends replacement every four years. Sig recommends replacement every 10 years. So we're going to get double the life out of our new weapon," said Rausch.
Watson said the main reason people should care about the new gun is its improved accuracy and greater firepower will allow officers to get the same job done while pulling the trigger less.
"It means less rounds flying down through a neighborhood potentially hitting some bystander, so it does make the public and the citizens of Knoxville safer," said Watson.
Rausch said if Knoxville City Council approves the resolution, his goal is to have the new guns in stock by February. Then groups of officers will be trained on the new weapon until it completely replaces the Glock by the end of April.