By Moses Leos III
Correction: In our print edition, we incorrectly reported that each Kyle Police officer would be issued three pistols as part of the 50 purchased by the city. Each Kyle Police officer will only be issued one pistol. We apologize for the error.
The days of Kyle Police Department officers purchasing their own service handguns will soon end.
On Nov. 5, the Kyle City Council unanimously approved the purchase of 50 handguns for the department’s use by a 6-0 vote.
For Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett, the move could keep newly hired officers from having to pay for their side arms out of pocket.
“It’s important. It reduces the burden for a newly hired officer to work for us, especially when they go through the police academy,” Barnett said.
Discussions about purchasing department issued handguns have been ongoing. However, it wasn’t until planning for the fiscal year 2015 budget that it became a reality.
The city’s purchase, which comes out of the General Fund, will total $23,687.50. That amount includes the 50 firearms – Glock 22 Generation IV .40 caliber pistols – and 15 round magazines for each gun.
Each of the department’s sworn members will receive one pistol, with a few left to spare. Barnett said the firearms will be delivered in January 2015.
“We wanted to be sure we had enough weapons to cover our staff,” Barnett said.
It will be the first time in the department’s 39-year history where handguns will be issued to the police force.
Since 1975, KPD has asked officers to purchase a side arm at their own expense.
But it wasn’t until recently that the department transitioned to requiring officers to purchase the same pistol – a Glock 22. It’s part of the department’s firearm policy, which requires new officers to buy their own pistol and ammunition magazines.
However, with Glock 22s costing as much as $400, Barnett said the cost put a financial burden on officers who are fresh from the academy.
“[New officers] pay $2,500 to attend the police academy full time. They also have to discontinue their employment, so they’re financially strained,” Barnett said. “To bring them onboard for a gun and an extra magazine, it can be quite difficult.”
Barnett offered several reasons why his department is moving toward issuing firearms to officers, including the cost of ammunition. He said KPD can buy Glock 22 ammo in bulk, driving down the cost.
According to Barnett, the city purchases $25,000 to $30,000 in training and service ammunition annually. That purchase provides ammunition for all firearms, including service rifles and shotguns that are issued to police cruisers.
Safety is another factor for issuing pistols, Barnett said. All officers can exchange ammunition and magazines in the event of an incident. They can also easily use another officer’s firearm should the need arises.
KPD can also take advantage of three firearms instructors that are also Glock Armorers. Barnett said they are able to diagnose and fix any mechanical issues with the weapons.
Extra firearms could mean more officers staying on the streets following a shooting related incident.
Officers involved in a shooting incident are required to hand over their weapon as evidence. With the process taking as long as months or even years, Barnett said officers could be forced to buy a new firearm should they be allowed to return to service.
According to Barnett, officers have discharged firearms to put down dangerous animals in the past. However, he was unaware of any Kyle police officers firing a gun at a person.
With the department possibly expanding in the future, Barnett said the cost of new handguns would be added to what’s budgeted.
“As we add to the force, we’ll incorporate (the cost of new handguns) into [each] position,” Barnett said.