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Gun concerns take deputies off the streets

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POSTED May 9, 2014 1:57 a.m.

It didn’t turn into the Streets of Laredo. 

But for a brief moment on Thursday, it was up to the individual cities that comprise San Joaquin County to handle the priority service calls for the agency designated to protect the residents that don’t reside within city limits.

The scenario was simple – deputies carrying newly purchased department-issued firearms from a reputable manufacturer were unknowingly carrying guns that could include a faulty part leading it to jam.

Do you pull all of those officers off the street and switch out those handguns until the faulty part can be identified and fixed?

According to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department brass, that’s exactly what you do. Agencies from Manteca, Stockton, Lodi and Tracy were asked to pick up the slack over a several-hour period while deputies carrying some of the firearms brought them in so they could be traded out and left for inspection by certified technicians that could tell whether they were susceptible to the problem.

California’s standards and training for police requires officers to be qualified to use the weapons they carry. Because they switched back to guns they used previously, those standards required them to become recertified on those weapons. Although the officers didn’t necessarily lose their certification for their old weapons, there was a concern that there would be legal issues if it wasn’t done.

A contract for 300 of the guns was signed with the company. The discovery was made by the department’s range master when two of them failed during qualifications. Those that were already issued to officers that had passed the qualification test, but concern about long-term stability forced the administration to recall the guns.

Manteca Police officers, according to Sergeant Jodie Estarziau, were called in to handle priority calls in Lathrop at the Sheriff’s Office request. She said that she believed that the process would continue into the evening. 

Sig Sauer – a German company that manufactures many of its American models in Herndon, Virginia and Exeter, New Hampshire – has been the standard duty weapon for sheriff’s deputies ever since they made the switch from standard revolvers. The company claims that one-third of police forces in the United States use some variation of their firearms – be it a handgun, submachine gun or rifle – and one of its handgun models is identical to the one issued to Navy Seals.

San Joaquin County Sherriff Steve Moore, according to Garcia, secured the purchase proposal through the county after it was determined that the model being purchased was superior to those that were already issued to deputies in the field. One of the biggest upgrades, Garcia said, was the inclusion of a rail beneath the barrel that allows for the placement of a tactical flashlight – freeing the opposite hand of a deputy in a scenario where he would have his gun drawn in the dark. 

Once the part is fixed by the technicians, the new handguns will be put back into circulation. 

No major incidents were reported during the time that the switch was being made. 

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