What do you do when your shotgun’s too big?

Villain of the piece: the cramped OHP Charger

Villain of the piece: the cramped OHP Charger.

If you’re the Ohio Highway Patrol, you buy new shotguns. The Dayton Daily News has the full story, which we’ll trim down to the facts. The OHP ran into a problem when they were forced to change from the discontinued Crown Victoria to the cramped Dodge Charger. (Having been stuck with a supposedly upscale-trimmed rental Charger that had an interior like a police car, we shudder to think what the interiors of the actual cop cars are like). The problem: their 20″ barreled Remington 870s wouldn’t fit. From the point of view of a normal riot shotgun, this thing is a Shriner’s clown car.

Arriving to save the day: 14" 870s.

Arriving to save the day: 14″ 870s that can be crammed into the clown cars, unlike the old 20″ guns.

The answer: because they’re a government agency, they don’t have to save money and saw off the barrels, they can buy all new 14″ NFA 870s on the taxpayer’s dime: 1,483 of them for a total of $645,011. They got $187 each for about 1,000 of the old 870s, which have already been sold off, despite the OHP claiming that that were worn out at 10-15 years old (what? They’ve been riding around in cop cars for 10 years and probably have under 100 rounds through each one, but they’re worn out?). Seriously, OHP spokesman Lt. Anne Ralston said that the old guns were a menace to “officer safety.”

They paid about $23k each for the Chargers. The Ohio taxpayers must have bottomless pockets.

The OH Investigative Unit got into the act, too, dumping its “worn out” 12-year-old Mossbergs for Remingtons with an attached light. The OIU is essentially the vice squad, chasing gamblers, pimps and food stamp fraudsters. And these two paragraphs about them teach us one thing, although it’s not about the OIU: reporters, and their editors, are functionally innumerate.

The state is also spending $98,980 for 110 shotguns for the Ohio Investigative Unit, which handles complaints and warrants involving liquor control, food stamp benefits, gambling and human trafficking.

Those Remington 870s were more expensive than the patrol’s — $1,043 each — because they need additional features such as lights for officers who often do their work in dark places, Andrews said.

Let’s run the numbers, shall we? 110 x $1,043.00 = 114,730. That can’t be right! 98,980/110 =  $899.82. Hmmm… that isn’t what the article says, either. There’s only one possible conclusion: Lynn Hulsey of the Dayton Daily News = 4th Grade arithmetic FAILure. (Sure, it’s possible that Andrews gave Hulsey bogus numbers, but Hulsey went ahead and printed them).

7 thoughts on “What do you do when your shotgun’s too big?

  1. Eric Maudsley

    Ugh! I just wrote Ohio a tax check a couple of weeks ago. Should I feel better since I essentially spent that money on a shotgun?
    Unlike a lot of states, the Highway Patrol in Ohio is a true Highway Patrol – they have a very limited mission. Their jurisdiction is limited to State property and highways and enforcing traffic licensing, safety etc. While they do provide some support for rural agencies without a lot of resources, OHP is essentially a force of traffic cops, unlike State Police agencies with criminal jurisdiction throughout their State. They claim to do a lot of drug interdiction, but that is essentially a numbers game – if you stop enough cars and “develop probable cause” (successfully profile/talk the driver into signing away his 4th amendment rights.) you’ll eventually find some dope. I’m sure your take on the shotguns is dead-on and they were barely used with a lot of finish wear where the rack rubs on them while driving.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Thanks for the OHP background. The wholesaler that took the OHP 870s, Vance Outdoors, retailed them in Ohio for around $100 markup over the ~$190 they gave as trade-in allowance. But the trade-in allowance was magnified because they got at least $50 more as the price for the new guns when selling against a trade in as they did for a second batch sold outright — in other words, they gave a lower discount when taking a trade. That’s normal business, they have to make money.

      We’re looking for a way to write up the Columbus shootout (if that’s the word, as the suspects appear to have been crumbs, but unarmed) from last November. The state AG’s report on it was pretty scathing. It was a 60-cop-car high-speed chase that ended in Polish ambush (apologies to Polish readers!). Thanks to dumb luck (or perhaps divine intercession) there were no civilian or cop casualties, although a bunch of rounds hit cop cars. That’s what happens when you ring the suspects 360 degrees and rip off 150 rounds. Still, they hit the suspects with almost 1/3 of their rounds, so LAPD needs to learn how Columbus teaches marksmanship.

  2. PatM

    That’s insane. Our department took all our old wood stocked 20″ cylinder bore 870’s (all from the 1950’s and 60’s) and over a few years rebuilt them all into tactical shotguns with 14″ barrels, ghost rings, sidesaddle, etc. Now they are really nice weapons. Plus, agencies don’t have to pay the NFA tax stamps to shorten the barrels, so why not just cut them down to 14″ and replace the front bead?

    1. Hognose Post author

      I dunno how a gun wears out in 12 years going from an arms room to a cruiser to an arms room with maybe an annual visit to the range. I shoot 100-year-old guns all the time. It may be the “nobody ever washed a rent-a-car” factor? Look how quick new cruisers go from pride of the fleet to “oh, not that unit again.” Maybe OHP just has more money or different priorities.

      Just heard a SWAT war story today. Guys went right from the range and they hit the bad guy with two rounds… a 5.56 and a slug… both made similar wound channels. Seems the 5.56 guy still had a mag of frangible in the gun. Oops. Oh yeah, the suspect was dead before he hit the ground — one for the forces of good.

      The 870 is a great police or home defense gun. Other pumps are OK, but the long-discontinued Winchester 12 (NOT the 1200) and the 870 are the class of the field.

      1. Eric Maudsley

        I think the shootout you are referring to was in Cleveland. I was an officer in the suburbs here for a number of years and might have some insights. THe most interesting thing I found is tangentially related to the shift in law enforcement hiring away from veterans, especially combat vets.
        About 1/3 of the rounds fired in the incident came from one rookie officer and former Marine who, believing he was taking a large volume of fire from the bad guy’s car (which was nose-to-nose with his) and “reacted to a close ambush” – he assaulted into it. Several of his colleagues threw him under the bus and claim he yelled “Semper Fi” while he stood on the hood of the suspect car shooting down at the occupants. Conventional wisdom is that he will be out on a disability before it is over.
        In past generations, police agencies actively recruited veterans. Now they are seen as damaged goods and potential media time bombs if they ever get in a shooting. Sorry, just my 2 Durham.

        1. Hognose Post author

          Yeah, that’s correct, you’re talking about the same incident. Thats right, one patrolman fired 49 rounds and he was an Iraq, IIRC, vet. The other cops fired 98 rounds total. Of course, is it a “shootout” when only one side’s shooting? But if cops think it’s a shootout, they’re going to the trigger. Can’t really criticize that, instead we have to try to train for it, but how?

          The amazing thing is that no officers were wounded. I’m sure the cop up on the car thought he was taking fire, because there were cops right across from him shooting towards him.

          It’s hard to mourn the two dead. They were low-life dopers and, as cold as it is to say this about somebody’s son and daughter, the world is probably a better place without them. But our society does not consider the DP appropriate for small-time crooks (maybe it should. All big-time crooks started out small).

          Events like this are a wake-up call to police to straighten out your training. Next time it’ll be one of their own guys they shoot — or someone connected to politics or media.

          By the way, speaking of ate-up training, Framingham MA SWAT participated in the Watertown cordon and search. And they were observed: selectors on semi, fingers on triggers, so it’s still their policy. The guy they shot last because of this was not a suspect, they were just securing him during a search for a suspect who was his relative. The suspect? He walked into the station when he heard there was a warrant on him.

          The finger-on-trigger idea is an artifact of old DA revolver training TTPS. Idea was to be faster on target, and the 12 pound, 1.5 inch motion required to break a round would prevent mishaps. It probably worked alright. Doesn’t work with a 5 pound, 1/3 inch Glock trigger or an AR trigger!

          No shock on the disability expectation. It’s getting a little crazy, with nearly 100% of cops in some jurisdictions going out on disability retirements. One reason I steer clear of VA is that they’re pushing disability hard. So I walk funny and come down stairs sideways sometimes, big deal, that’s not disabled.

  3. Aesop

    Alternate possibility: Al the numbers given are correct:
    According to the article’s numbers, the main patrol’s shotguns cost them $434 and change each ($645,011/1483).
    The OIU’s are costing $899 and change ($98,980/110).
    But the out-the-door OIU price is $1043 because of the extra features.

    Which makes all of the numbers correct, and merely leaves us to ponder whether the reporting and editorial staffs are deficient simply in English writing skills, rather than in math. That’s a tough choice to make sitting here, so I’d have to vote for “both”.

    The larger issue of how the OIU works in dark places, while somehow the rest of the OHP never needs shotguns in the dark, I leave to the explanation of the PIO for the Ohio Highway Patrol. The news that their officers won’t be out at night because they’re afraid of the dark, or that at least they won’t be using their shotguns at night, will be of some comfort to felons, not to mention civil litigation attorneys, esp. the first time someone is shot by a regular OHP shotgun between the hours of nautical twilight and sunrise, with one of the sub-par ill-equipped weapons with no light.

    Once again, they seem to have decided to send the screw-up/retard officers to public affairs to write the press releases, mainly because the reporters are no brighter.

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