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Buffalo PD to invest in 9mm handguns, holsters with automatic body camera activation

The new holsters come with a device that uses bluetooth technology to automatically activate an officer’s body camera when the gun is drawn


The changes would be for about 630 patrol officers and 182 detectives and command staff.

Buffalo Police Department

By Deidre Williams
The Buffalo News, N.Y.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Police Department plans to spend about $354,700 to buy new handguns and holsters for its 812 sworn officers.

The Common Council on Tuesday approved Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia’s plan to replace all of the department’s .40-caliber handguns with 9 mm handguns.

The Police Department wants new holsters that come with a device that automatically activates an officer’s body camera whenever the weapon is drawn from its holster, making it more likely that videos will capture any use of deadly force.

The changes would be for about 630 patrol officers and 182 detectives and command staff. Buffalo police hope to have all officers outfitted with the new weapons in one year.

The department also plans to equip the new guns with an attached flashlight.

“With the touch of the finger that would already be on the frame of the gun, you can very easily push a tab that would turn the flashlight on,” said Gramaglia at a recent meeting of the Council’s Police Oversight Committee.

The holsters will be upgraded with a device called a signal sidearm that will use bluetooth technology to automatically activate the body camera when the gun is drawn. The current holsters “are quite old” and cannot be altered to do that, Gramaglia said.

Niagara Council Member David A. Rivera, a retired Buffalo police officer, said he finds the sidearm technology “very appealing.”

“The sidearm technology that triggers the body cameras takes that responsibility away from the police officer to get there and turn the camera on,” said Rivera, committee chairman. “I think that’s a good thing because in the course of answering a call and all the stress and everything that goes into it, you don’t have to worry about it. The technology would turn the camera on itself so there would be no human excuse why the camera wasn’t on.”

The sidearm technology is used by several other police departments, including New York State Police, Buffalo police officials said.

The total cost for the changeover would be $354,700 “give or take,” Gramaglia said. “It’s an approximate cost.”

The department already has $40,000 budgeted for this purchase, Gramaglia said. There is more than $800,000 in the department’s asset forfeiture funds that is available to fund the balance.

The department has applied for a technology grant from New York State to cover the $102,000 cost of the holsters. If the grant is not received, the money for the holsters would come out of asset forfeiture funds, Gramaglia said.

The change in weapons is being made for a host of reasons, he said.

For one, training is changing in 2024 through the Municipal Police Training Council, Gramaglia said. Part of that involves a one-hand hold on a gun versus a two-hand hold.

“When you have officers that work at nighttime, you have a flashlight; you have a gun in a hand. We are looking to upgrade our weapons and install a tactical flashlight that would be mounted on the bottom of the handgun, Gramaglia said.

Buffalo police told Council members that the FBI has concluded that 9 mm rounds cause less recoil than .40-caliber rounds, so they are more accurate. It also costs less for 9 mm rounds. And there is no difference between the 9 mm and .40-caliber’s power to stop a threatening person.

“At today’s current costs we can get approximately about 20,000 more 9 mm rounds for the same cost that we would of the .40-caliber rounds,” Gramaglia said.

The department will trade in its .40-caliber handguns to reduce the cost and will look for other weapons in the department that are “really no longer in use,” Gramaglia said.

The trade-in value of the .40-caliber handguns is about $235 per sidearm, officials said.

“We’re going to be looking through all the weapons that we have to maximize our trade-in value,” he said.


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