Category Archives: Lord Love a Duck

TSA Mongs Reach Deeper in Your Pocket

tsa-security-theaterFor the billions wasted on the Transportation Security Theater Agency (the direct cost of the failed agency is approaching $10B a year), and the complete lack of performance of the agency (the number of terrorists caught and/or terror plots thwarted by TSA is holding at 0), the agency is doing what government agencies do: grabbing more money. Directly from travelers.

A security fee that the government charges airline passengers more than doubled on Monday, from $2.50 to $5.60.

Lawmakers last year approved an increase in the fee, which is tacked onto the cost of airplane tickets, as part of a budget agreement.

Additionally, passengers will be charged twice if they have a layover for a connecting flight….

“Due to new @TSA fee hike, travelers will pay a billion dollars more per year in added taxes/fees thanks to U.S. [government],” Airlines for American President Nick Calio tweeted recently.

via TSA fee on plane tickets more than doubles | TheHill.

There is no limit to the greed of these payroll patriots. And there’s no accountability for their failures. The director who built a multimillion-dollar Xanadu office? No consequences. The hundreds, if not thousands, of TSA agents who steal from travelers? No consequences (in the worst case, they are quietly fired with a neutral reference). The abuses of Behavioral Detection Officer quackery? No consequences. Mismanagement at every level? No consequences.

No one good, decent, honest, competent, moral, ethical or intelligent has ever been employed at TSA in any capacity whatsoever.

We Say ‘Lord Love a Duck’ all the time, but really…

WoodDuck2011We don’t usually mean it quite so literally. A vet (veteran type, not veterinarian) says his flock of ducks are “therapy animals.” The bedroom community he lives in says they’re unauthorized livestock. He’s playing the I-was-traumatized card.

We have a kind of cruel opinion about that. You can be traumatized by an event — once. If it continues to traumatize you after that, it’s not the event that is to blame.

Well, here’s how the Marion (OH) Star reports this case:

Darin Welker is facing a citation and a hearing in Coshocton Municipal Court for owning 14 ducks, as they are in violation of a village ordinance.

Welker, who lives on Grandview Street in West Lafayette, was cited June 23 with a minor misdemeanor. He said he uses the ducks for therapy after being wounded in 2005 in Iraq and should be allowed to keep them.

Welker said he has a letter from the Mental Health Department of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs recommending he keep the ducks.

“I came back (from Iraq) with a major back injury, and between the back injury and the (post-traumatic stress disorder) that I also brought home, there were numerous problems,” Welker said.

In 2012, the VA paid for a surgery to Welker’s back but did not approve the physical therapy recommended by his surgeon, nor did it provide mental therapy, Welker said.

Frankly, if you need mental therapy for a back injury… you probably need mental therapy, period. Oh, wait.

Welker acquired his ducks in March when they were just days old. He had first heard the idea of using ducks as therapy weeks before and thought it wouldn’t hurt to try, he said.

via Ohio village says veteran’s therapy ducks aren’t allowed | The Marion Star | marionstar.com.

We’ve seen some guys play the vet card pretty hard for stuff, but this is the first time we’ve seen a vet self-medicating with freakin’ ducks. Well, given what might have happened to him if he’d left it all up to the VA, maybe he has a point. But still….

It’s kind of a sore subject that guys just fence around. But a lot of people are really riding the disability train. This guy hasn’t worked since 2000 because his back hurts, and he’s so traumatized by what appears to have been a back injury. Really?

There are blind and head-shot and legless guys out there going to work every day. What makes any one of us special?

And don’t even get us started on the “therapy animal” dodge that Unique And Special Snowflakes™ use to drag their pets around with them. Yes, we’re on to you, and that’s why we give you The Look™. Now, there’s no question that pets are good for a person’s soul. Unless he’s an incipient serial killer, or something, in which pets are a good way to tease him out. (Hard on the pet, though).

But it’s like the book now being hyped that says being near, or in, the water is psychologically good for you — it’s someone trying to hype something glaringly obvious to astronomical levels. People do better near the water. Duh, no kidding, Dick Tracy. That’s why you pay more for the same house with a water view in Santa Monica than you pay for the same floor plan in freakin’ Bakersfield. That’s why the poor beggars in Bakersfield want swimming pools.

If the real estate marketers, the mighty quant geniuses who gave us the Bubble of 2007, have figured this out, then the university professors can only be a decade or two behind.

Of course, I read enough into the “water is good for you” book to get to where the guy who’s going all science-y describes how environmental exposure to water can change your brain and then your offspring can inherit those changes. 

Konstantin Lysenko, call your office….

Back to this particular guy with his “therapy” ducks. By now he has convinced himself he needs them — all “therapy critter” folks seem to arrive at this point sooner or later. Our guess is that he plays the Vet Grievance Card™ and they let him keep his quacking menagerie.

I we ever throw the Vet Grievance Card™, please slap us back to reality. Do it for a real vet who walks a little funny these days.

Update 22 July 14

Speaking of ducks, back on 7th July 14 we posted “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have ducklings,” about a lady who locked up her brakes in the fast lane to save baby ducks and killed three people. In New Hampshire, a lady stopped in the median strip (not legal, but safer than stopping in the lane) to help orphaned ducklings on Friday, and got a $44 ticket for her trouble. No humans were hurt, but she saw two ducklings get nailed, and left four behind when the cops wrote her up and sent her on her way. She did save two ducklings, one of which perished at an animal shelter; the ducklings left behind are unlikely to have survived.

So, these are the Navy’s priorities

Screenshot 2014-07-19 22.13.16The Navy, like traitor, felon and jailbird Bradley Manning, has a thing called a Transition Plan, and it may be proceeding towards the same end. We’ll provide the document as a .pdf for you, but we thought we’d highlight a couple of the lowlights.

First, get a load of the cover of this thing! Decide whether they wanted to publish the annual report of some Silicon Valley high-tech, or a brochure for some overpriced college. So they split the difference. It has the college brochure One Cool Looking Brother, the obligatory Action Shots, and the Meaningless Slogan some marketing department MBAs agonized and argued over, in this case, “MOVING FORWARD… MOVING FORWARD…

Given that ships generally suck at backing up, that’s probably not a completely bad choice, but you have to wonder whether it was an attempt to suck up to the Administration’s E Ring suits, or hosts of sparsely-watched MSNBC shows, two practically interchangeable demographics.

The plan begins with a grinning picture (we’ll spare you) Ray Mabus, who’s getting antsy now that he’s only got two years left to name DDGs for Sacco and Vanzetti, an LHA USS Jane Fonda, and maybe an SSBN USS Benedict Arnold. And the plan is a very curious thing. Maybe it’s that we don’t have a Distinguished Naval Personage around the Manor, although we have thrown the dog in the fountain on a slow day, for comic relief. But the plan makes no sense to us… we can’t tell what they’re transitioning from or to, it’s almost as if in Ray Mabus World “transition” is an intransitive verb.

Anyway, the document includes an absolutely shocking set of goals. These are the Navy’s priorities:

  1. Take care of our people The DON is committed to attracting, developing and retaining a diverse total workforce trained and equipped to meet our strategic readiness objectives.
  2. Maximize warfighter readiness and avoid hollowness The DON will effectively size our force to meet strategic demands, maintain a credible, capable and combat ready military force.
  3. Lead the nation in sustainable energy The DON continues to support alternative energy efforts, realizing that energy independence is vital to our national security and the safety of our Sailors and Marines.
  4. Promote acquisition excellence and integrity

The DON is improving the execution of every program and increasing anti-fraud efforts, and leveraging strategic sourcing to take advantage of economies of scale.

5. Proliferate unmanned systems

The DON will integrate unmanned systems across the entire department ensuring that we can operate in any environment. Our global presence will be sustained and enhanced with our continued investment in unmanned systems.

6. Drive innovative enterprise transformation

The DON will continue to transform our business enterprise, ensuring that available resources are directed to our Sailors and Marines. 

Screenshot 2014-07-19 22.12.59Apologies for any brain-dead formatting. (WordPress ^$^&#^I#$!! But we digress). Apart from the fact that those are a politician’s anodyne and empty statements, worthy of a game of Buzzword Bingo except that everyone has a winning card, the priorities they reflect are remarkable. (Mabus is an anodyne and empty politician; a former one-term governor who was defeated for a second term, he got rich as a revolving-door crony capitalist, and has served in several political appointments). Indeed, those statements look so stupid we’re putting a screen-cap of the document here for those of you disinclined to download the whole anodyne and empty Buzzword Bingo thing.

Of course, Mabus’s lodestone, “diversity,” gets mentioned in Goal 1. And “sustainable energy” gets mentioned a couple further on. Those terms come up a few times in the document. But the mention of “combat ready military force” in Goal 2 is the only place the word “combat” appears in the whole thing. That’s not what this Secretary is transitioning this Navy towards, apparently. Some things a Navy might do don’t show up, either: “battle?” “Superiority?” “Dominance?” Those all get “No Results Found.” There is, however, a mention of the Navy’s element, the sea. Exactly one mention, on Page 11 (which is page 13 of the .pdf, thanks to the cover letter). Here’s the only context in which Ray Mabus’s Navy is concerned about the freakin’ sea:

Institutionalize environmental sustainability on land and sea

Well, we guess we can’t say that the Navy has no priorities. It has priorities, all right. But we think we can be forgiven for the thought that they are all the wrong priorities.

Here’s the document, if these samples haven’t already glazed your glazzies: Navy Transition Plan-Fy14-16-Final.pdf

You want sustainable energy, Ray Mabus? Go to the Naval Academy where, in a tomb reminiscent of Napoleon’s, John Paul Jones’s remains lie in honored repose, returned to the US after a century in a restless foreign interment. Wrap the old Admiral in a winding of varnish-insulated copper magnetic wire and call him an armature. Add a pair of magnets and brushes to take off the power , and zowie! Sustainable energy, as he spins.

Possible Killshot in the Ventura-Kyle Trial

The Late Chris Kyle with his .338 Lapua Magnum.

The Late Chris Kyle with his .338 Lapua Magnum.

Chris Kyle wrote that “Old Scruff Face,” whom he didn’t then identify by name, bad-mouthed today’s SEALs at an informal frogman wake in 2006, and that Kyle decked him. It was obvious to insiders  that the old frogman he was referring to was SEAL turned pro wrestler turned actor (he’s in Predator, toting an M134), turned maverick politician, turned sometime reality-TV host Jesse Ventura, and Kyle later confirmed this during an appearance on a Los Angeles radio station — during which he also said it wasn’t anything special because the guy was “really old.” (Ventura is 63 now, so he was in his fifties when he and Kyle crossed paths in the bar).

Ventura insists that none of it ever happened: no bad-mouthing, no punch, none of it. Sure, he was at the bar, a SEAL hangout; he had been there as a VIP guest of a fresh graduating class. But he claims that the ridicule resulting from Kyle’s book has sunk his income, once millions a year, to less than what the VA pays people to mismanage vets’ treatment, and estranged him from the SEAL community, of which he was ever a proud member.

Naturally, the lawsuit, and the fact that he persisted in it after Kyle’s unrelated murder, with Kyle’s widow Taya standing in as plaintiff, has further estranged him. His name is mud in the SOF community, for certain values of “mud” that are highly organic in origin.

Everybody seems to have an opinion about the facts in the case, which seemed to be a classic “This guy said this and that guy said that” kind of case, complicated by This Guy being unavailable to testify. But the emergence of an eyewitness in the case, testifying for the Kyles in defense, seems to have shifted the balance of the case considerably. Here’s the St. Paul Pioneer Press on the testimony of Laura deShazo:

DeShazo, the sister of a Navy SEAL and an education specialist for Utah’s public schools, testfied that she was at the bar the night in question for the wake of Michael Monsoor, a slain SEAL.

DeShazo, the first witness called by the defense, said someone pointed out Ventura to her and that she, her sister and another woman posed for a picture with him. Otherwise, she said, she had little interaction with him.

Later that night, deShazo testified, she saw an altercation involving a group of people in the bar. Ventura was involved.

“I saw Mr. Ventura get hit,” she said.

But she didn’t know who hit him. She watched only for a few seconds, she said, before turning away because she wasn’t interested in a bar fight.

The Pioneer Press notes that some details of her recollection of the fight don’t gibe with Kyle’s (do Read The Whole Thing™; it also has some detail on Ventura’s finances). But deShazo’s description of the SEAL that punched Ventura does match Chris Kyle, according to a report at Fox News:

DeShazo said she later saw Ventura getting a scuffle with other people at the bar and saw a man punch Ventura. She said she doesn’t know who threw the punch but gave a description that was consistent with Kyle.

Reportedly, the defense team has other witnesses ready to testify they saw the big-mouthed former entertainer take one on the chin, but given that deShazo’s testimony was not perfect for the defense, and they led with her, the other testimony is probably weak. Still, the jury now has to disregard Kyle’s deposition and deShazo’s corroborating testimony, and accept Ventura’s testimony instead (he didn’t present on-scene eyewitnesses to his story). This seems unlikely, and the probable outcome is that the lawsuit will attaint Ventura’s reputation more than the bar fight story did.

You have to wonder why this wound up in the courts in the first place. It is nothing but a mess, and reflects badly on the SEALs in general and these two SEALs (yeah, technically Ventura was a UDT guy, but that hair-splitting distinction is of no consequence here) in particular. It’s unseemly.

Frankly, if Ventura really said the stuff Kyle wrote that he did, especially in that environment, he had the punch coming.

Of course, not everybody agrees with us. The Minnesota Post’s Jim Walsh clearly wishes the badmouthing was true, and wants Ventura to take it further:

[W]alk away… from the military industrial complex that brainwashed you into believing in fight not flight. Take those boxes of SEAL shirts and torch them in a massive purifying ceremony….

…true freedom, the kind that has nothing to do with America or the military’s narrow definition of it…

…Have a good cry … and become Jesse Ventura, new age man and leader of the feMENist movement who strikes a blow for compassion above all else.

Uh, not too likely. Walsh also describes both Ventura and Kyle as members of “Douchebag Nation.” Well, all we want to know is, as King of that dominion, did Walsh sign their passports?

trident

Update

Since this post was drafted (and not published) on 15 July, the trial has continued, and a parade of witnesses who were at the informal “wake” for SEAL Michael Monsoor MOH have followed deShazo — and their testimony has further damaged Governor Ventura’s case. They include:

  1. Rosemary deShazo, Laura’s sister, who testified that she heard Ventura say a disparaging remark about fallen SEALs: “They probably deserved it, they die all the time.” She admits she’s paraphrasing, but the statement is close to what Kyle recounted in the book, and like Kyle, she was angered and offended by it. 
  2. Former SEAL Jeremiah Dinnell remembers both Ventura saying that SEALs “deserved to lose a few in Iraq,” and Kyle immediately thereafter punching Ventura. That’s exactly the way Kyle told the story in the book and on KFI Radio in LA.
  3. Gold Star Mother (of SEAL Marc Lee) Debbie Lee, who found that instead of sympathizing with her (or the Monsoors’) loss, he wanted to brag himself up. She “lost all respect for the man.” Kyle admitted to her that he punched Ventura.
  4. Former SEAL Guy Budinscak saw something, although he did not testify it was the punch, but “a commotion,” saw Ventura depart looking like he’d been in a fight, and heard that same night that Kyle punched Ventura. He also remembers Ventura rudely dismissing wounded SEAL Ryan Job, and spouting 9/11 conspiracy theories.
  5. Job himself formed an opinion of Ventura from their brief meeting: “Fuck that guy,” he said, according to his friend SEAL Kevin Lacz (via video deposition). Job died from complications of his wounds in 2009. Lacz’s recollections otherwise support Kyle’s version of the story.
  6. SEAL SO1C John Kelly III didn’t see Kyle punch Ventura, but he did see Ventura down and apparently out, and then later, with blood on his lips. Kelly had initially admired Ventura, until the conversation turned political and Ventura began bashing both Bush and servicemen. The suggestion that SEALs like Kelly were in Iraq “killing women and children” stuck in his craw.
  7. Former SEAL Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Paul also did not see the punch, but saw Ventura down, and then come up threatening to kill Kyle. Kyle later admitted to Paul that he punched Ventura. He also remembers Ventura ranting about “very bizarre” 9/11 conspiracy theories.
  8. Former SEAL Bobby Gassoff saw “a commotion” and later that night “was told” that Kyle hit Ventura.

Kyle himself, appearing from beyond the grave by video deposition, expressed surprise that, of all the things in the book American Sniper, the three pages describing his encounter with Scruff Face were the part that went viral.

Chris-Kyle

However this case ends — we all know that random stuff occurs in American courts all the time — Chris Kyle deserves to be remembered.

Sources:

Minneapolis Red Star Tribune

St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Portland Oregonian (AP wire story).

On the Frontlines of Hunting Hatred

Nobody has the anger, hate and embitterment of people who think they’re morally superior to you. Here are two case studies of anti-hunting activists and the hate and rage they employ — not to mention, the severe Vitamin Clue deficiency that seems to come with a vegan, macrobiotic diet.

Case 1: The Belgian Huntress and her American Hate-ress

Let’s begin with a picture, because we can:

axelle-despiegelaere

During the World Cup, which is apparently an event for some sport played by foreigners and American snobs’ kids, pictures of a pretty Belgian fan of her national team went viral.  It brought her fame, fortune, a modeling contract (well deserved, as Axelle Despiegelaere is a classic beauty)… and intense scrutiny of her Twitter feed, which included a big-game hunting photo.

axelle hunting

 

“Hunting Americans” was a reference to an upcoming soccer game, where Axelle’s Belgians were expected to beat the American pick-up team (we were among the millions of non-immigrants who didn’t watch, so we don’t know who won. Do we look like we care?).

Among the looters and wreckers “reading till offended” was one Aly Weisman, a gossip columnist for the online Business Insider — in essence, the webzine’s own Rita Skeeter. Weisman’s article seethes with envy and contempt for the pretty young Belgian lady. Weisman complains that Despiegelaere’s hunting is “crass” and “offensive,” and notes that unspecified “fans” were outraged. Weisman took great glee in the piling-on of anti-hunting extremists, calling them “fans” that, “didn’t let up,” and applauding their pack attack.

Weisman was ultimately delighted when l’Oreal canceled their contract with the kid.

Now, people have suggested many reasons that Weisman is so transparent in her loathing for Despiegelaere. One common theme is that she’s simply jealous of the younger, prettier woman’s natural beauty, which Weisman can’t equal even with the nose bob that Daddy bought her and whatever other touch-ups she’s had done to her angular face and boyish body.

Because we pride ourselves on maintaining a tidy blog, Aly Weisman’s horse face appears after the jump.

Continue reading

What do all violent crimes have in common?

Violent criminals, naturally. Rape is one of the most serious of violent crimes. It is generally perpetrated by force or by threat of force. It can leave the victim scarred for life, physically as well as psychologically.

Until recently, our society treated it as seriously as murder, executing thousands of worthless rapists yearly. Post-1960s softness on crime, as well as the “do your own thing” philosophy of the era which shrank from being judgmental towards rapists, have turned tens of thousands of rapists loose, where they have, entirely predictably, committed scores of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of fresh rapes, and thousands of murders.

Hubbart Mugshot svp

While a significant minority of individual murders are unique results of impulse and opportunity by a criminal who feels real remorse and never will offend again, criminals like pedophiles and rapists are always serial offenders, and nothing is served by releasing them – ever. That’s why Californians are not thrilled with the release of career rapist (of adult women and girls) Christopher Hubbart, who was released by Santa Clara County Judge Gilbert Brown — on the condition that Hubbart not set up anywhere nere where the judge’s family lives .

Hubbart’s release, which had been opposed by the DA’s office, local politicians and Antelope Valley residents, was ordered by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Gilbert Brown last year.

Brown, who has jurisdiction over Hubbart’s release because the convict’s most recent offenses were in Santa Clara County, determined that Hubbart’s “domicile” was Los Angeles County.

Hubbart grew up in Pasadena and Claremont but has not lived in the area since he was first sentenced in 1972.

Brown approved the Avenue R [in Palmdale] residence for Hubbart in May.

Hubbart registered as a sex offender at the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station and was taken to the home by private firm Liberty Health, which is responsible for his supervision, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“He will be under constant supervision for a period of several weeks to months,” the news release stated.

It turns out that Hubbart has full-time security at taxpayer expense — not to protect the local girls and women from his guaranteed return to his perverted, criminal life, but to protect him from being lynched by their fathers, husbands and boyfriends (if not the women themselves).

Who would rent a home to a guy the police admit is a “Sexually Violent Predator”?

The home Hubbert will be living in belongs to a convicted felon from Lancaster.

Oh. What did the landlord do?

Martyn Haggett, who served eight years in prison for hiring a hit-man to kill his wife, agreed to rent the 800-square-foot home to the government for an estimated $2,800 a month.

Now, if we hired hit-men to whack our spouses, we’d get more than eight years. But then, we don’t live in California.

But if we did that and lived in California, the state would pay us $34k a year to house a fellow felon, plus whatever they’re paying for his full-time probation contractor, plus whatever they’re paying for his full-time, around-the-clock personal security detail.

Plus, whatever they’ll pay for counseling his next rape victim.

“I’m very angry,” said Palmdale resident Norma Valenti. “Everybody’s afraid. They’re literally scared and fearing for their lives because this man is here.”

The owner of a security firm who accompanied Hubbart to the home said the felon would have 24-hour protection.

“I don’t want to say he’s euphoric, but he’s optimistic and hopes he can to reintegrate back into society and live a normal life,” said John Perry, owner of Sunset Protective Services.

So what kind of guy commits violent crimes?

Hubbart was ruled a Sexually Violent Predator under state law, a determination he unsuccessfully appealed.

After his sentencing in 1972 for assaults in Southern California, he was released in 1979 to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he again sexually assaulted a series of women, according to court records.

Got it? He’s 63 in 2014, so he was about 21 when he first went inside. Arrested as a serial rapist, he did a max of seven years, and then returned immediately to serial raping. At that point, his adult life comprised 3 years out of prison and 7 years in.

The best guide to future behavior is past behavior, so his return to rape as a way of life was predictable. And the best guide to the California courts’ behavior is their past behavior, so they probably turned him loose again, don’t you think? Yep:

He was sentenced in 1982 to 16 years in state prison, but was released in 1990.

OK, so that’s a max of 3 years out of prison (giving it the most generous construction; he probably spent time in pretrial confinement, given the charges and his violent history), then eight years in. So far, since reaching his majority, by 1990 Hubbart had spent a maximum of 5 years as a free man and 15 as an inmate.

He again reoffended and had been in state custody since 1996.

OK, so he stayed out of state prison for 6 years this time. And then has done 18 inside. So his running total is 11 years max out committing crimes, and 33 paying for them. There’s a pretty steady one-to-three ratio there, meaning he’ll be back inside soon.

Aside: Hey, doesn’t California have a three-strikes-you’re-out law? Well, not any more. Prop 36 made some big changes, all of which reduced the time served by violent criminals. And the third strike is only a 25 to life offense, and only if this crime was a violent one, even if the previous 8 or 10 were all violent felonies.

After his release to the home near the community of Lake Los Angeles, Hubbart was expected to be required to wear a GPS ankle monitor and attend therapy sessions twice per week.

In addition, a state contractor who supervises sexually violent predators was to be assigned to Hubbart and with him every time the felon is in public for the first six months of his release, the DA’s office had announced.

via ‘Pillowcase Rapist’ Christopher Hubbart Released to Home East of Palmdale | KTLA 5.

It gets better. If you get multiple convictions at one trial, the CA Supreme Court ruled, that’s just one strike. The hippy-dippy California Supremes were looking for a way to turn lose a woman who’d been convicted of robbery, carjacking and burglary. They’ve been chipping away at the three-strikes rule since the voters imposed it in 1994.

There are few things in life that are certain, but Hubbart will rape again. His future victims have many to thank for this, but none more than Judge Gilbert Brown.

Pistol OCD: Why the Pennsylvania State Police went SIG (long)

Recently, we posted a story called Pistol OCD, about the Pennsylvania State Police’s remarkable run through quite a few different makes and models of service pistols in a very short time. The most recent change, this year, is from the Glock 21 to the SIG 227R, both pistols in .45 ACP caliber. We linked and quoted the actual contract terms and solicitations posted on official Pennsylvania websites.

PSP SIG 227

But we were missing one thing — and it was a big thing. We didn’t have any idea of why the PSP was changing over to the SIG. A changeover from Glock to SIG is relatively uncommon, compared to a change in the other direction. And to change abruptly, a year after letting a contract for Glocks and less than a month after the PSP’s last mod to that contract, would seem to require a really strong reason.

Well, Pennsylvania readers have filled us in on what the reason is. Obviously, the managers of the PSP think it’s a good reason — a really good reason. And it is, potentially: safety. 

Specifically, the Glock, unique among current service pistols, requires you to pull the trigger to disassemble the pistol. So every time you need to clean your clock, you need to pull the trigger. It should be a no-brainer to clear the pistol first, and even then, to ensure it’s pointed in absolutely safe direction before pulling the trigger. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case with PSP troopers. It is, in fact, a very hard behavior to enforce on a large and diverse population.

The Shooting that Sidelined the Glock

The single incident that triggered the PSP’s abandonment of the Glock pistol took place on the early afternoon of March 7th this year. Before this, there was a constituency for replacing the Austrian pistols; after this, there was urgency to the task. Joseph Miller, apparently a PSP Trooper, although some media reports, apparently mistakenly, described him as a laid-off former nonsworn dispatcher, called 911 to report a shooting. His wife, Joanne, 34 years old and 22 weeks or so pregnant, was nonresponsive when first responders arrived, with a single gunshot to the cranium evident. Miller explained that he had been dismantling his gun for cleaning, when he pulled the trigger, and the round he discharged struck JoAnne in the head.

She was nonresponsive when paramedics arrived; they’re not allowed to pronounce death but they’ve seen it enough to know. They rusher her to the hospital, where medical staff knew she could not be saved but mounted a heroic, long-shot effort to save the baby. In the end, they admitted defeat; and one shot had taken two sould. The PSP had two options: blame the cop, or blame the Glock.

It seems self-evident that that particular negligent discharge is the one that put the skids under the Glock as a PSP service pistol. It doesn’t even matter whether you believe it was simple negligence, whether you believe that it was a case of a guy using the well-known accidental discharges as an excuse for murder, or whether you don’t know what to believe: it clearly has occurred to PSP managers that if they have a pistol that doesn’t need one to dry-fire for disassembly, they’ll never hear that excuse again.

The Miller case is depressing to read about. We’ll refer back to it in a bit, but if you want to read about it there are no shortage of stories:

  1. March 8: Trooper’s gun goes off, killing pregnant wife. Nice passive voice from the Morning Call.
  2. March 8: Pennsylvania trooper may have accidentally shot, killed pregnant wife: report. The New York Daily News at least knows whose digit was on the projectile actuator.
  3. March 10: Police say Pa. trooper accidentally shot wife. It took a couple days for the Philadelphia Inquirer to wake up; maybe they needed to see the story in the Daily News? Anyway, they too credit the cop with the shooting, not his gun.
  4. March 10: Pennsylvania State Trooper Fatally Shot Pregnant Wife While Cleaning Gun: Police.  The Huffington Post, of all things.
  5. June 6: Three Month Investigation Concludes with Determination that March 7, 2014 East Norriton Shooting Incident was Accidental; No Charges to Be Filed. The official report from the Montgomery County DA’s office.
  6. June 7: State trooper cleared in wife’s shooting death: Wife, unborn child died when gun fired during cleaning. The Morning Call, still with the passive voice.

It wasn’t, of course, the only PSP negligent discharge. Some crop up in the news and some don’t.

For instance, in October, 2010, Trooper Nicholas Petrosky’s 4-year-old son Micah was transported to the hospital with a gunshot wound in the leg. The accident was investigated by local police, who accepted Petrosky’s statement that the boy got hold of the gun while his father was in the shower, and immediately closed the case as an accident. The State Police did not investigate, and stressed that they had no interest because the gun in question was a personal off-duty gun, not an issue service pistol. The child was expected to make a full recovery, fortunately.

In June, 2012, a State Trooper shot himself in the leg at the Belfast, PA, State Police Barracks, “while unloading his car.” How he did that without trying to pick up the Glock by the trigger was the subject of one of those investigations that never quite wraps up.

In April, 2014, a State Trooper had a negligent discharge inside the Meadville, PA, State Police Barracks. No one was injured, and there were no career consequences to the cack-handed cop.

In addition to these accidents, which became public because of the casualties, or because they happened in a public building, there are rumors of numerous other negligent discharges while cleaning or handling the Glocks. These have been handled informally. In fact, it is State Police policy to keep negligent discharges secret, according to a story on the Meadville mishap:

[T]here was no news release made on the incident.

Asked if the report on the incident [by the PSP's Bureau of Integrity and Professional Standards] would be made public once it is completed, [spokesman Sgt. Mark] Zaleski said it would not because it was a personnel matter which is a closed record.

As you might expect from such a non-confidence-building policy, it isn’t building confidence. Read the comments of the dangerous armed (with $5k double-barrels) men at trapshooters.com, for instance.

Is there a Double Standard for Negligent Troopers?

None of the troopers who have had negligent discharges have suffered career consequences, let alone criminal charges. In the tragic Miller case, some have complained that, because Miller was a trooper he got a deal a normal Pennsylvanian wouldn’t get. The prosecutor disagrees, criticizing Miller rather strongly, while not charging him.

Based upon a thorough review of all the available evidence, the District Attorney concluded that Joseph Miller was negligent in the handling of his firearm; however, his conduct did not rise to the necessary level of recklessness or gross negligence, that would give rise to criminal liability. The totality of circumstances simply reveals that this incident is a tragic, but negligent, accident.

Now, if we had a parallel case where the at-least-negligent shooter was a civilian, we’d know if Pennsylvania was a state of laws, or a state of ranks and titles. If only we had such a case!

Mirabile dictu, such a case is right at hand, and fresh (June, 2014).

[Denver Blough, 25] allegedly broke his 20-gauge gun into two pieces, separating the barrel from its stock, Trooper Ted Goins wrote an affidavit.

“Blough related he took the barrel assembly out to a kitchen area to show [his pregnant girlfriend Caressa] Kovalcik, where it discharged into her face,” Goins wrote.

Blough, currently in Somerset County Jail, has no prior criminal record in the region, according to online court records.

The only differences between the Blough and Miller cases, in probable order of their importance to the two respective outcomes:

  1. Blough is not a state trooper;
  2. Blough talked to the state police for hours; Miller made a statement and lawyered up;
  3. Blough admits he had been arguing with Kovalcik;
  4. Blough’s and Kovalcik’s child was saved by medical intervention (life support and C-section), perhaps in part because the pregnancy was about full term.

Now we know how Miller would have been treated if he hadn’t had that patent of nobility, a police badge.

There is also other evidence of a double standard. The State Police’s policy on negligent discharges (click on “Accidental Discharge Policy.pdf” at that link) explains that as long as a cop is the one ND’ing, they’re really all “accidental.”

Microsoft Word – Accidental Discharge Policy CURR.doc

I. DEFINITIONS

Officer-involved shooting
An officer’s discharge of a firearm that results in the physical injury or death of a person, whether or not the discharge was unintentional.

Officer-involved discharge
An officer’s unintentional discharge of a firearm that does not cause injury or death to a person.

 

…and they only need to be reported immediately if the ND hits somebody, that is, in the former case of an “Officer-involved shooting.” Otherwise, a report in writing, filed within ten days, to the Firearms Education and Training Committe, is sufficient cover. There’s a section of the policy that initially seems to be a Lee Paige rule (inspired by the world’s most famous Glock operator), requiring instructors who have dumb-ass NDs in public on the range to be decertified. But there’s an exception a PBA lawyer can drive an MRAP through:

Microsoft Word – Accidental Discharge Policy CURR.doc

As long as an instructor is adhering to proper range safety protocols when such a discharge occurs (has not performed a negligent, unsafe, or careless act) and there are no injuries, the weapon discharge procedure does not take effect and no discharge report is necessary.

No harm, no foul. Well, apart from the encouraging more ND’s bit. There is that.

And this brief foray into a policy that seems to reward rather than punish NDs brings us to another question:

Will the SIG end the Negligent Discharge plague at PSP?

We’ll go out on a limb here, because it’s a robust and sturdy limb built of decades of observation of organizations with what sociologists call “insider morality.” And answer the question: No. Not a bit.

The problem is that the shootings are not caused by the Glocks, but by the people who cannot remember or follow simple, clear, and exception-free instructions. Remember, they’re not always clearing their gun before they go to clean it. Remember, they’re not always pointing their guns in a safe direction with a solid and sufficient backstop before pulling the trigger. They’re not always keeping their finger off the trigger until lined up on target. Changing firearms because you can’t train or incentivize these irresponsible behaviors out of your work force is not going to produce safety; it can’t. 

A lot of cops don’t know and don’t care about firearms, and that may be a natural reaction to how little firearms matter in the real day-to-day life of a road trooper (until the rare, outlier day when they matter more than anything in the world; but people work off heuristics, and if you’ve gone three thousand days without having to clear your holster except for annual quals, you only practice if you want and like to). Most cops are not as interested in firearms as you are (or you wouldn’t be reading this). Most bricklayers don’t go home and build walls for fun, and most cops don’t shoot for fun, or even for any more proficiency than they absolutely need to get through the annual qual with a passing score.

Some cops don’t like guns at all. Some are on the force because it’s a family tradition. Some are on the force because it’s a good, statistically safe (again, until the moment it isn’t, when statistics provide cold comfort), well-paid government job with rich benefits. A few of them are on the force because they like to boss people around — very few, fortunately, as the academies and the selection process make scant attempt to screen for that type, and they’re impossible to dispose of once they’re in.

As a result, Pennsylvania Troopers of tomorrow are the same imperfect clay as the troopers of yesterday and today. They will continue to have negligent discharges with their new SIG 227R pistols, because the causative factor in an ND is the negligence, not the operating features of the firearm. The SIG does have two features that may reduce some kinds of firearms mishaps: unlike the Glock, it does not have a light trigger pull, but a long DA pull on first shot, and also unlike the Glock, it need not be dry-fired to disassemble it. But the SIG has other features that will cause problems for a 5000-officer force where only 500 (if that many) care much about the handgun they carry. It has a rich, but complicated, operating system with multiple control levers. The Glock has a trigger, slide stop, and magazine release; SIG has those plus a decocking lever and a takedown lever. Police officers will not only continue to have NDs with this new system, they may have more problems putting it into action (and safing it afterward) due to its relative complexity compared to the Glock.

One has to have a certain sympathy for the PSP managers. They have a tough situation, even if it’s partly self-inflicted. There’s a solution at hand, but they’re not willing to take it: if they made a public vow that an ND was an automatic dismissal, they’d see NDs wither away to an irreducibly low level, especially after they made one or two negligent cops walk the plank pour encourager les aûtres. Many years ago the Ranger Regiment, inspired by another ARSOF unit, made such a determination and even though every Ranger is a young, impulsive male, and every Ranger probably fires more live ammo in a year than the ammo budget of the entire PSP, NDs are a once-in-several-years event. Rangers are not supermen, they’re merely carefully selected, well led, and properly incentivized. PSP ought to try it.

Dunning-Kruger Media Effect, and “RIP Ammo” hype

OK, there are rounds that can produce guaranteed death. They just don't fit in pistols.

OK, there are rounds that can produce guaranteed death. They just don’t fit in pistols.

Blue Nation Review is a newish website, dedicated to the proposition that the liberal message (including enthusiasm for gun bans, a frequent theme) has no way of reaching a misinformed public. And apart from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, the Times, the Post, and all the journalistic farm teams populated by eager and callow youths aspiring to those major leagues, they have a point. It came to our attention because they’re spending enormously on ads with Taboola, and the ads kept appearing on major media websites.

But the essence of Dunning-Kruger, as stated in the brilliant paper “Unskilled and Unaware of It,” is a near-Rumsfeldian tautology: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” In the case of BNR, they don’t know a damned thing about firearms or ammunition. So, after listing a bunch of nonfatal accidents from the twitter feed of gun-ban activist David Waldman, and seeing some assclown’s promo video, they be terrorized (warning, site’s privacy-invasive wrt your location):

But if one Georgia company is successful, accidental shootings that injure people may become a thing of the past. That’s because if people start using their bullets, pretty much every person who gets shot will die.

G2 Research’s “Radically Invasive Projectile” (RIP, get it? — because shooting people to death is hilarious) is a copper bullet that explodes when it hits a target (i.e., a human being) sending pieces screaming through vital organs and clearing a path for the bullet’s core to travel deeper through a person.

via New Bullets Mean Certain Death – Blue Nation Review Blue Nation Review.

Except, they’re hyperventilating over hype. As we wrote six months ago, “The claims were so over-the-top, we dismissed the round as snake oil.  But we weren’t going to debunk the claims. Fortunately, someone else did.”

Our conclusions then bear repeating:

Look, there’s no magic ammunition: nothing you can chamber in a barrel is going to do to a bad guy what you’d like to do to him (unless your barrel is 155mm and tows behind an LMTV, which limits your concealment options). Ammo vendors have been making big claims about ammo forever, and in all that time, guys (good and bad) have been surviving hits of “killer” ammo — we personally met two guys who took 12.7 x 108mm rounds and survived, and a friend took a 5.56 point blank through his brain housing group, and he’s still with us. And in all that time, guys (good and bad) have been taking the “golden BB” from a .22 LR or an even-more-anemic .25ACP and they’re now singing in the Choir Invisible.

It was probably predictable that the marketing hot air generated by the RIP ammunition would wind up being used by those who would leave us, disarmed, at the mercy of their fellow liberals, the violent criminals. (We’re not saying the authors of BNR are criminals, we’re saying that they and the criminals share a position that’s soft on crime and hard on self-defense, and we give them the benefit of belief that their motivations and the criminals’ for arriving at the same position are different).

In all of the nonfatal cases the editors of BNR reference, we can assure them that RIP ammo would not be significantly more damaging than common self-defense JHP ammo or even the 19th-Century ball ammo required by military conventions. Indeed, the lower penetration of the RIP fragments and reduced mass (and therefore penetration) of the central penetrator make things easier on the ER docs and surgeons, although it will doubtless be a hassle chasing down all the little copper fragments.

More of our February wisdom:

You can only be sure a threat is negated if the guy is killed, in our opinion. (You can be pretty sure if his condition is, “not dead… yet.” And the only way to put the guy in that state for sure is with hits in the human’s X-ring, the central nervous system. You do your part, and even FMJ will punch the guy’s ticket for him.

And, while we may not agree with the authors of BNR or with the extreme Waldman on much of  anything else, we can find common ground in contempt for most of the people having negligent discharges. Honestly, folks, tighten up your shot group in that area, because you’re giving way too much glee to people who do not have your best interests in mind.

But then, we don’t think there’s a big intersection between the set of readers of this blog, and people committing some of those egregious ND’s. How do you reach people who already know it all? Because those are the guys having the accidents.

In the meantime, most of what the general media, old and new, writes about firearms and ammunition is purest tosh. Case in point.

It’s never just One Thing with Stolen Valor turds

gregory schaffer phony SEALThis New Jersey brownstain was outed as a phony SEAL back in the 2011, but the FBI dismissed the idea of charging or prosecuting him then. Stolen valor, they sniffed, is a victimless crime. Except as we, and everybody else in the community knows, the character deficiencies that lead to some nerdy perv playing Action Guy Dress Up like this, are invariably comorbid with other character flaws and other criminal behavior.

Since Stolen Valor is, pace the FBI, “a victimless crime,” maybe the Bureau should wake up to the fact that it is the veritable lodestone pointing to other crimes, which always have real, human, victims.

In the case of scrawny self-proclaimed “SEAL officer” Gregory Schaffer, the victims were female and underage. In addition to multiple rapes, he also has been indicted for making kiddie porn with some of his victims. Short-Eyes Schaffer told 15- and 16-year-old girls that the employment contracts they’d signed with him obligated them to sexual servitude — and swore them to lifelong secrecy about it. The New York Post, after Monday’s testimony:

Gregory Schaffer, 35, offered the now-18-year-old woman a lingerie shop job in March 2012 and had her sign a flurry of documents.

Schaffer then told the victim that she’d just signed a contract that compelled her to perform a variety of sex acts, prosecutors said at his Brooklyn federal court trial.

“He told me I just signed a document agreeing to do those things with him,” she testified Monday. “I was shocked.”

Schaffer even claimed that he could sue her if she failed to follow the fine print and that she also had unwittingly signed a confidentiality agreement that barred her from discussing the arrangement.

“He said he could sue me for breach of contract and sue my great-grandmother,” she testified, referring to her legal guardian at the time.

Crying and frightened, the woman agreed to have sex with Schaffer. “I was upset,” she recalled of the encounter in a grimy Jersey City office. “I was disgusted.”

The woman testified that she feared for her family and believed that Schaffer could take her to court for not having sex with him.

Prosecutors said his plot developed after he answered her innocent Craigslist ad seeking summer employment in the retail field.

The criminal behavior wasn’t isolated to the shrugged-off Stolen Valor or the sexual peccadilloes, either. Among the facts that came out about Schaffer, when he was finally, belatedly busted:

Agents described Schaffer as a transient with a prison record for theft and several lawsuits against him.

Schaffer’s attorney, Michelle Gelernt, is using the “bitch had it coming, and probably liked it,” defense, claiming that her client’s serial rapes of high-school kids were “consensual,” because “they answered his emails.” That’s part of why the girl was being rational when she believed that the court system might have conspired with Schaffer against her — Gelernt, a court officer, has been glad to do so. The other part, later.

The Post, again, after Tuesday’s testimony:

The prosecutors’ table looked more like a sex toy sample sale Tuesday at the trial of a New Jersey man charged with convincing a Brooklyn teen that she was legally bound to have sex with him.

Brooklyn federal prosecutors said Gregory Schaffer offered the girl, whom was 15 at the time, a nonexistent retail job and then told her that she had unwittingly signed a “sex contract” that compelled her to romp with him.

Scared that he was going to sue her and her family for breach of contract, the underage girl complied with his sick demands in March 2012, prosecutors said.

A swarm of agents raided Schaffer’s Jersey City “office” after the incident and found a trove of sex toys including a penis pump, a sex swing, prosthetic genitalia and lubricant, prosecutors said.

via Filthy toy and video trove revealed in ‘teen sex contract’ trial | New York Post.

And now we get to another reason why it’s reasonable for 15- and 16-year-old rape victims to think the New York court system is likely to make common cause against them, with their rapists:

Judge Allyne Ross barred the jury from viewing handcuffs and restraints that were allegedly found at the office because the items were deemed too inflammatory.

Lord love a duck. That makes perfect sense: can’t show the juror’s the perv’s perv tools, lest they form an opinion he’s a perv or something, whilst he’s on trial for being a perv. That’s the other part of why the girl was rational in fearing the courts were against her: at least this court, and this judge, are.

Fortunately, Schaffer’s SEAL imposture, one of the tools he used to bed these kids, is going to be heading upriver for a while.

Hat tip, Jonn at This Ain’t Hell, who’s been on Schaffer like ugly on an ape for years now.

Pistol OCD: the Pennsylvania State Police

Pennsylvania_State_PoliceIf you want to see inability to decide on a pistol, or maybe it’s just general inability to pour piss out of a boot, you really can’t beat the Pennsylvania State police. They’ve been through three official sidearms in four years, and it’s their own fault. This Pistol OCD has tripped the PSP through pistols so rapidly that they’re not always able to issue all the new ones before changing to the new new one.

This is only possible in a jurisdiction where a somnolent Legislature exercises flaccid oversight over runaway spending. It’s fair to say that the majority of chiefs of police in America would be grateful and thankful for the chance to recapitalize their force’s handguns once every couple decades. Some jurisdictions make (or “let” if you prefer) their cops buy their own guns from an approved list.

The Pennsylvania State Police buys ‘em and issues ‘em — and then does it all over again. It may be that having the academy located in Hershey, PA, the inescapable aroma of chocolate has inhibited their faculties for impulse control.

Pistol No. 1: The Glock 37

During the wave of the 90s, which sent police forces from their 1980s 9mms to larger calibers, the PSP converted to the .40, which they used initially in Berettas (96D, which is DAO mode with no mechanical safety, then Brigadier), then the Glock 22. They had the usual problems with .40 (declining qual scores and poor performance by smaller troopers due to the .40′s sharp recoil), but they didn’t have quality problems with their Berettas (like the 96D whose PSP patch is shown below) or Glocks. They had wear problems on the usual wear items but the armorers stayed on top of them.

PSP Patch Beretta

After 10-15 years’ .40 experience, they were interested in the .45 ACP, and they considered but did not adopt this caliber at first.  Instead, in 2007, some genius decided that they really needed more oomph than the mere .45 Auto gave a bullet. The fact that the .45 ACP round has been indiscriminately writing the numbers after the dash on the grave markers of various shooting victims for a century plus didn’t seem to matter. Various Mexicans, Prussians, Haitians, Nicaraguans, Nazis, Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese, Grenadans, Cubans, Panamanians, and God alone knows how many varieties of civilian miscreants are not around to testify as to the adequacy of the .45 ACP, because they’re dead, Jim.

It’s not clear whether it was the highly theoretical idea that the .45 needed improvement, or perhaps it was fanboy drooling over Glock catalogs, sent them to the .45 Glock Auto Pistol, or .45 GAP, round. While .45 GAP is usually loaded to slightly higher pressures than .45 ACP, it actually has less performance potential because it has a shorter case, smaller primer pocket and thicker web, and less case volume. (The shorter case –  is so that it can be accommodated in a G17/G19 sized grip. The thicker web was a good call, given the weak case-head support in big-bore, The smaller primer pocket serves both to strengthen the case head and all .45 GAP loads, factory and manual, are designed to be ignited with small pistol primers and may be unsafe in .45 ACP with large pistol primers. Ammo, load data, and all components except bullets are not interchangeable between ACP and GAP, and you can’t make safe GAP cases by trimming ACP).

The decision to go with .45 GAP somewhat simplified the pistol buying for them, as only Glock and Springfield make pistols in .45 GAP (maybe Detonics also?), and at the time of the contract it was Glock, period. Therefore, the PSP bought large numbers of Glock 37s. Four thousand eight hundred of them, to be specific. (That covers around 4,720 troopers, plus operational floats to cover for pistols in maintenance or evidence).  So they bought 37s. NTTAWWT, right?

Well, it turns out that there is something wrong with that. Specifically, the ammunition is quite hard to come by. There are few sources, little competition among sources that would be acceptable a risk-averse public agency, and it’s expensive, compared to other pistol rounds. (How expensive? At LuckyGunner.com, .45 GAP ranges from 55¢ to $1.28 a round, while .45 ACP is offered in 31 options for less than the least expensive .45 GAP. True, the cheapest of those are reloads or Wolf steelcase crap no agency would touch with a barge pole, but even name brands like Speer Lawman duty ammo sell for far less in the more common caliber – the GAP is 15¢ or more per round more expensive than .45 ACP for like brands). When ammo is expensive, cops don’t train. When cops don’t train, cops can hit the broadside of a barn. From inside the barn.

When cops miss the bad guy they’re shooting at, or worse,  hit the citizen they’re not shooting at, the worst of all possible things, from the viewpoint of a police manager, ensues: bad publicity. Every police white shirt knows that this is to be avoided at all costs.

The very first Glock 37s were bought in 2007, but they were still buying, stocking, and issuing new Glock 37s in 2013. They had made every effort to make it work, but the ammo supply problem was insuperable, and sooner or later one of Pennsylvania’s dozing legislators was going to wake up and ask why they were paying $1.50 a round for practice ammo. So they decided that the new Glock 37s had to go. They were offered as part of the payment for new guns, with the proviso that a State Trooper could buy a gun (not necessarily his or her old one) back from the vendor within sixty days.

As part of this Invitation for Bid, PSP desires to trade in 4800 Glock Model 37 firearms, each with three clips and are equipped with Glock Night Sights front and rear. The firearms included in the trade-in are 0 to 6 years old and are in NRA good to very good condition.

For sixty (60) days following receipt of the used firearms by the Contractor; PSP Personnel shall have the opportunity to purchase, from that Contractor, a used PSP service firearm. Purchase shall be at trade-in price plus any fees imposed by law or by the Contractor for the proper transfer of the firearm to PSP Personnel. The awarded Contractor shall ensure that the sale of the firearm to the PSP Personnel complies with all applicable State and Federal laws. Following the sixty (60) day time frame, the awarded Contractor may sell or otherwise dispose of the firearms as provided by law

That, in fact, is why you can go online and find several retailers who will happily ship a PSP-crested Glock 37 to your local FFL.

2713699_01_retired_stamped_pennsylvania_s_640

 

Pistol No. 2: the Glock 21 Gen 4

PSP was looking, then, for an easy way out of their .45 GAP dilemma, and the obvious solution of changing to .45 ACP suggested itself, for all the reasons that GAP was problematical. (It may also be the case that the original fanboy behind the G37 purchase had moved on to other duties).

The G21 was an easy decision for a number of reasons. Its manual of arms is identical to the ill-starred G37, minimizing retraining. About the only user-accessible thing that was new on the G4 was the convertible-size backstrap, and that was likely to be received with hosannas by troopers with smaller or larger than average mitts.

There was a rush to execute the contract. The State Police knew they had the funding to do this in 2013, and they couldn’t guarantee they’d have the funding in out years. They could justify the change on both the ammo savings grounds and on the nifty new features (interchangeable backstraps, etc.) of the next-gen Glocks.

So an RFP went out 22 March 2013, and a contract was let for:

SPECIFICATIONS

…an initial order of 4800 Glock 21 Gen 4 firearms, with a contracted option to replenish as needed.

This is a no substitute bid for the firearms and listed accessories; the only firearm that will be accepted for this bid is the Glock 21 Gen 4. The items listed under Training Equipment and Accessories are required.

 

The specifics included the sort of training equipment you’d expect, and training for field armorers and a handful of expert armorers.

As the 21s came in, the 37s went out.

At first, the troopers seemed happy enough with their G21s. Until some of them began running up a high round count. Glock at first denied the guns had problems (we all remember the painful introduction of the G4, right?) and then began addressing specific problems. The union began to rumble, as their officers complained about guns they did not have confidence in.

But as late as 8 April 2013, PSP was still modifying the original G21 contract, in the apparent expectation that the problematic Glock would remain the agency’s service pistol.

Pistol No. 3: the SIG 227R

The problems with the Glock 21 drove the PSP leadership mad. They were frustrating for Glock, too, and Glock executives were bitterly disappointed when PSP changed direction again; from the Glock point of view, the trigger bar and magazine replacements had resolved PSP’s problems. But the real problem was that by this point Glock had lost the confidence of leaders. Once again, personnel turbulence played a role as some of the Glock’s most strident defenders had retired or moved on to positions wherein they couldn’t give their preferred pistol top cover in the bureaucratic battle.

Pistols are one thing that police leaders (like police officers) get emotional about. Everybody is trained to use a pistol, and everybody thinks he or she is above average with it (an arithmetic impossibility). And these emotions get tied up in what everyone pretends is a fight about what works better. The cold fact is most pistols work pretty well, and their differences in specification are tiny compared to their similarities. Another cold fact is that every mass producer of firearms produces occasional individual lemons, and from time to time entire shifts or runs of lemons.

PSP SIG 227

The PSP decided to stay with the .45, but make a radical change: to the SIG P227R. One widely publicized factor in this decision was a series of tests conducted by PSP, in which P227Rs provided by SIG really shone compared to their competitors. Another factor, which has received far less publicity but may have had a greater impact, is the experience that other agencies have had with SIG lately. While some of the Feds are distinctly unhappy, the Indiana State Police are carrying 227Rs and appear to be quite satisfied. An important factor in this satisfaction is that the SIGs haven’t been perfect — but when they haven’t, SIG’s service has been very satisfying to ISP. When Glock grudgingly admitted problems with the 21s, Pennsylvania armorers got a box of trigger bars, and PSP logistical guys got boxes of improved magazines. When SIG determined some parts in some ISP guns were out of spec, SIG sent their armorers not to ISP HQ, but to every individual site, to inspect, R&R the parts, and test the guns with the Indiana armorers.

That was the level of customer service that PSP had felt they were missing from their Glock suppliers.

Unlike the G37 -> G21 transition, the Glock -> SIG transition is a big one.

There is a class in the Academy right now that has the first 150 SIGs. We’ll see how they do, but the rest of the SIGs are rolling out across the force gradually. PSP thought it best this time, given the teething problems of the G21 G4, that they’d start with an academy class, because recruits at the academy shoot a lot more than working line troopers who may only fire for qualification.

Are they going to be happy with the SIG? In the days ahead, we’re going to talk about some famous agencies that have SIGs and are anything but happy. One of them has a warehouse full (literally, not Joe Biden “literally”) of broken SIGs, and there are HQ power struggles over what to  use next (including a MOAR SIGS faction). But that’s another story.

Note that the 4800 pistol requirement in these contracts is an initial contract. Also included is replenishment of 500 guns at a rate of 100 or so a year, spare parts, and training for the PSP’s 70 (!) armorers (one armorer per ~70 cops? They must be hard on their handguns).

So that’s the latest, from a department that’s been through a half-dozen different service pistols in the last 10 or so years. If we were SIG, we would celebrate the sale with an ad buy, but we wouldn’t buy a whole year’s worth of ads.

At least the PSP allows its obsolete guns to be sold in the market. Since every PSP gun is engraved or etched with the force’s crest, they are popular with collectors, helping the vendor recoup the credit he gave for the trade-ins. PSP trade-ins also tend to be well-kept for cop guns, even apart from the Glock 37s scarcely having been shot due to the ammo problem, so they’re an attractive alternative to a new gun for a bargain hunter.