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Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputies Fire More Accidental Shots After Switch to New Guns

June 15, 2015  | 

 The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is now issuing its deputies Smith & Wesson's M&P9 9mm service pistol as it moves away from Beretta's Model 92 9mm pistol. The agency has experienced both better shooting scores and an increase in accidental discharges. (Photo: Smith & Wesson)
 The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is now issuing its deputies Smith & Wesson's M&P9 9mm service pistol as it moves away from Beretta's Model 92 9mm pistol. The agency has experienced both better shooting scores and an increase in accidental discharges. (Photo: Smith & Wesson) 

Accidental gunshots by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies have more than doubled in two years, endangering bystanders and occasionally injuring deputies. The jump coincides with the department's move to a new handgun that lacks a safety lever and requires less pressure to pull the trigger.

Sheriff's officials tell the Los Angeles Times that the increase in accidental discharges — from 12 in 2012 to 30 last year — occurred because deputies were adjusting to the new gun. They expect the numbers to fall in the years ahead. So far this year, the department has recorded seven accidental discharges, five of which involved the new weapon.

But the problems may not be over, as more deputies switch to the Smith & Wesson M&P9. In response, department officials have imposed extra training requirements.

The M&P has obvious benefits. It is easier to shoot accurately, can be fired more reliably under stress and is a better fit for people with small hands. The switch was prompted in part by the threat of a lawsuit by women who had failed the Sheriff's Academy. More recruits — including more women — are now passing the firearms test, and veteran deputies are also logging better scores at the firing range.

For two decades, L.A. County sheriff's deputies carried the Beretta 92F, a heavy metal gun with a large grip.

People with small hands often have trouble flipping up the Beretta's safety as they prepare to fire. The first shot requires 12 to 15 pounds of pressure on the trigger, forcing some to use two fingers and reducing shooting accuracy for many. Subsequent shots take about 4 pounds of pressure.

Comments (10)

Displaying 1 - 10 of 10

Rick @ 6/15/2015 6:46 PM

It's either poor training on the part of the department and negligence on the part of the officer, or the weapon had to malfunction, but they aren't 'accidental' discharges.

MIke @ 6/15/2015 6:53 PM

I have an answer: Keep you F%^&(#g finger off the trigger until you've made the decision to fire.

Bud Johnson @ 6/15/2015 7:06 PM

Cannot blame the weapon. Most times the fault can be blame on not following the training.
Have to keep the finger off the trigger.

Ken Lewis @ 6/16/2015 8:35 AM

Who writes this crap?
Bad gun. Bad gun. Don't do that!

Jon Retired LEO @ 6/16/2015 11:26 AM

What more training? Can't do that, it would cost more money. The taxpayers will scream.

H Ritter NRA Firearms Ins @ 6/16/2015 10:24 PM

Reads like a press release from someone who doesn't know firearms. Many/most pistols and the old revolvers do not have safeties. The key is proper handling from the draw to the presentation.
What we are suffering from is a lack of firearm exposure prior to recruitment and definitely a lack of adequate training including trigger control.

Jason Villarreal @ 6/17/2015 7:47 AM

Southern California Police Departments have some of the most ass backwards firearms training. If you were to go to any handguns competition shoot with that sort of handgun "safety" taught by the LAPD, you would get kicked out and banned!

David Yatczak @ 6/17/2015 7:13 PM

As a firearms instructor of entry level shooters I would agree with all comments stating "Don't blame the gun." Keeping the finger off the trigger until ready to fire needs to be instilled and reiterated at all times.

kevCopAz @ 6/21/2015 9:39 PM

Agree, seems to be "operator error" for the most part, rare is the time that the weapon can be blamed for A.D. BUT, having carried the Berretta and then going to the Glock I have to say that I never really thought that we should have a weapon with that type of safety, I always feared that either myself or another officer would not do as trained and forget to release the safety and in the end be shot for the error. I have to say that the Berrtta is a fine weapon, well made but for police work we don't need such fancy "hammers" (Berretta/Smith/etc) when a simple, effective well made "Home Depot" one (read Glock) will do the job.I (and everyone I knew in Phx) transitioned without any effort or "mis hap". So sorry to say it, its either the lack of, or the type of training and/or operator error.

Capt. Ahab @ 7/13/2015 5:04 PM

The Beretta has notoriously bad ergonomics including a huge stock, a long trigger reach, and the usual heavy first trigger pull, standard with a "double action" pistol. It is unsuitable for petite officers and even plenty of men with small hands. But like all double-action pistols the heavy first pull does minimize the likelihood of a negligent discharge, even with the often inadequate training and slovenly gun-handling of many officers.

The move to a Glock-like function could predictably increase range scores and even more predictably increase the number of ND's.

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