The Athens Police Department is in the process of purchasing about $10,000 worth of new firearms to replace the old ones.
The purchase would cost about $10,000, even after the old ones are traded in to help finance the purchase.
Pyle said the firearms are not paid for by taxpayer money.
The purchase and training process will happen over the next six months, Pyle said.
“We are getting quotes and looking into the feasibility and logistics of switching from 40 count Smith and Wesson platform that we currently have, which is Glock 40 (caliber) count Smith and Wesson, to trading all those into a dealer and switching to the nine millimeter Glock,” Tom Pyle, ADP Chief, said.
The police department replaces used weapons every five years to make sure the equipment is at its safest.
“I'd have to have everybody qualified to state standards on the newer weapons and then collect the older weapons and turn them in,” he said. “We have pretty significant cash of ammo for training purposes that we have to trade in and get in a new order ammo ordered. I mean there's a lot of logistics involved with it, but there's some new technology on the widespread available market.”
He said this new technology includes a holographic red dot site, a more accurate citing platform and that the new guns would be able to support this kind of technology.
Pyle said it would be a purchase of about 30 to 35 weapons. The last time a switch like this was made was around 2005 or 2006.
“We pay for it through the Law Enforcement Trust Fund (LETF) and mandatory Go Fund,” Pyle said. “Although I would say those weapons were present exclusively, we do it through the LETF Fund, which is basically forfeitures and seizure money.”
The new firearms will save money in the long run, Pyle said.
“One is the case of 40 caliber ammo is almost twice the cost of a case of nine millimeter ammo,” he said. “So that's significant, and we shoot a lot of ammo every year meeting state standards and training our officers. The recoil and specifically the nine millimeters are typically smaller frame, easier to handle, certainly easier for smaller hands, and most people will shoot better with nine millimeter than they do 40.”
This means that these new firearms with new ammo will be more accurate and hopefully cut down on training costs.
“Anything that helps save some money for the city budget is good with me,” city councilman Jeff Risner, D-2nd Ward, said.
Firearms are not the only thing the police department has to allocate money for.
“Of course the police department comes to counsel for different purchase items (such as) new police cruisers, new radio equipment, new first aid equipment, items for the offices, even some things for our traffic enforcement people,” Risner said. “So there’s quite a range of items they budget for and then come to council with.”
The budget for these items stays generally stable from, but there is about a 2% to 3% increase per year, Risner said.
“So when you have that, at the starting now, various departments are putting together their budget for 2020,” he said. “Those budgets will be brought together in Committee, which I’m on, and we’ll be looking at the overall budget for 2025 in the middle of November, it'll go before Council and will begin to pass legislation to do budget for January 1, 2020.”
While there haven’t been any issues with budgeting or public opinion surrounding the police budget, Risner said citizens are welcome to share their opinions, and everything is done with transparency. Police department funding comes from multiple places.
“In general, most of their funding will come from what we call our general fund,” Risner said. “The city derives a majority of its revenues from payroll and business income taxes. And that goes into our general fund which usually has around $15 billion in it. The rest of our funding will come from various grants, state funding, such as the gasoline tax some funding from our transient guest tax a little bit of funding from the county.”
The police department also can get grants from the Department of Homeland Security to buy new equipment.
“When the funding is not dependable you need a dependable front line,” Risner said. “That's where our general side comes in. And certainly, when it comes to payroll, that's where the majority of the funding comes from.”
Andy Stone, city service safety director, confirmed that the new firearms are being purchased to increase efficiency and lower costs.
“Basically the current weapons are .40 caliber, while the proposed weapons are 9mm,” Stone said in an email. “9mm is a much more common, and therefore cheaper, ammunition. That will allow them to maintain their marksmanship proficiency at a lower cost over time. Additionally, the department rotates out service weapons periodically anyway as they get old, so this is an effort to do that as well.”