Sheriff’s Office adopts firearms policy

Sometime next year, sidearms with names like Smith and Wesson and Colt, or any other brand different than Glock, are to disappear from the sides of Mille Lacs County deputies.

In their place will be only Glock pistols with 9 mm ammunition.

It is part of a new policy at the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office, in which the department will issue the firearms for its 37 officers, replacing the old policy where officers could use their pistol of choice as long as those fell within certain guidelines. For example, the pistols would have to use only ammunition in one of three sizes – 9 mm, and .40 and .45 calibers, according to Mille Lacs County Chief Deputy Kent Larson.

The Mille Lacs County Board approved Sheriff Brent Lindgren’s request Dec. 17 to purchase 40 Glock 9 mm pistols from Keepers of Sauk Rapids under the state bid price of $409 each, for a total of $16,360 with shipping.

The money will come out of the sheriff department’s forfeited property sale fund and from miscellaneous revenue accounts, totaling close to $17,266.

The sheriff’s department recently finished forfeited arms and vehicle sales for 2013 and placed close to $15,742 of that into the sheriff’s forfeiture drug account and placed close to $6,666 into one miscellaneous account and close to $1,580 into another miscellaneous account for a total of $23,988. After paying the state and prosecuting attorneys their share of the forfeiture money, it left the county  nearly $17,266 to draw on for purchasing new pistols for department issue.

Lindgren explained the advantages of going to a department-issue policy for the duty handguns when he made his request to the county board Dec. 17.

Having one standard department-issued firearm for every deputy will better enable the department to give a deputy who has discharged their firearm a replacement. Lindgren explained that whenever there is an officer-involved shooting, the officer’s firearm is taken as evidence during the investigation into what happened. With a department firearm in reserve, it can be given quickly to the deputy, Lindgren said. The department wouldn’t want a deputy at a shooting scene standing without a firearm, Lindgren added.

Another advantage of the policy is that there is only one type of ammunition to purchase and keep in stock, Lindgren noted. Still another advantage is only having to have one armorer in the department. An armorer is a person skilled to tear down a firearm and repair it. Only needing to have one in the department will result in cost savings, Lindgren said.

The Princeton Police Department has a department-issued firearm policy and the pistol Princeton police carry is a Smith and Wesson M&P that uses .45 caliber ammunition.

Mille Lacs County Board chairman Phil Peterson asked Lindgren what happens to the .45 caliber ammunition left over that will no longer be used in the department. Lindgren answered that the officers will use it up while conducting shooting training for certification purposes.

Lindgren said he expects to put in the order for the new Glocks in February and that the transition into the new policy will take place during this coming summer’s training sessions.

Commissioner Tim Wilhelm asked if the department-issued firearms are only to be used while on duty, and Lindgren answered yes.