How an Alaska police department increased shooting accuracy by changing its duty weapons
A crisp trigger, reduced recoil and smooth action make range practice a pleasure with this firearm
Sponsored by Staccato
By Pete Goode for Police1 BrandFocus
The Petersburg Police Department in Alaska is made up of nine sworn officers covering 46 square miles. In the early months of 2020, every one of these officers were issued arguably one of the best pistols available: the Staccato P.
Staccato’s pistols are approved for duty by over 325 law enforcement agencies across the country, including the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Police Department, Las Vegas Metro Police Department and the Houston Police Department. Law enforcement agencies choose Staccato 2011 pistols because they are easy to shoot well, dependable and insanely accurate.
Petersburg PD was motivated to modernize and upgrade their department issued duty pistol for a number of reasons, largely due to their dissatisfaction with qualification scores. I spoke with Police Chief James Kerr about the changeover. We discussed whether or not the department saw improvement in officers’ scores and if he feels the update was ultimately worthwhile.
To begin the process, the department researched available options and the Staccato P floated to the top. The features that attracted Kerr to Staccato included the company’s customer service, available courtesy training and the Staccato lifetime warranty.
In January 2020, the average Petersburg PD qualification score was 206/240 (85%). 85% might sound good to most, but a straight score doesn’t take into account shot placement or group size, for example. In July 2020, after changing over to the Staccato P, that average jumped up to 224/240 (93%). The department averaged an 8% increase in scores, with the largest single-officer increase being 10%.
There are a number of reasons that could account for the increase in scores, both tangible and intangible. The tangible is obvious – a top-shelf, well-built firearm from an established, well-respected company. A crisp 1911 trigger, reduction in recoil and a smooth action will improve most shooter’s scores. Morale is key to the intangible: If an officer runs a pistol that is enjoyable to shoot, and is successful on the range, then that officer will want to shoot it more. Having an agency that is willing to invest in high-quality equipment shows officers that the department cares and that their city or county values their service.
Experienced shooters know that no amount of fancy, high-dollar kit can replace the fundamentals when it comes to shooting, but the Staccato’s quality of fit and finish and the 30% reduction in recoil due to the proprietary FlaTec technology will make applying the fundamentals easier.
Even the most prepared officers experience a skyrocketing level of anxiety when the word “qualification” is mentioned. I asked Kerr if he has witnessed any change in pre-qualification nerves. Kerr told me that anxiety is down to such a level as to be nonexistent. In fact, he noted that his officers are keen to hit the range and are asking for more range time. They enjoy the new weapon platform so much that they are going out on their own time to shoot and train. As a firearms instructor, I would say that this additional off-duty range time is not a common occurrence, as a large number of officers will only train on the range when the agency mandates it.
Scores are not the only way to gauge a shooter’s improvement, so I asked whether accuracy has increased, specifically with the more firearm-proficient officers. Kerr said “officers have increased confidence levels and are pushing themselves to new levels.”
Kerr also shared a letter he received from the range officer who handled the purchase of the new Staccatos, Officer Ayriss. Ayriss noted the high level of customer service he received from Staccato, and outlined the services Staccato considers standard for law enforcement. These include free training on the platform until officers are comfortable, loaner guns if an officer is in an officer-involved shooting and the pistol is collected for evidence, free annual inspections, and spring replacements, to name a few.
Petersburg PD took advantage of the free transition training, as well as an armorer’s training. Kerr said that officers who had never fired a single-action 1911/2011 before were able to better understand the inner workings of the gun. Understanding how something works is huge, especially when it comes to firearm malfunctions and how to fix them. Petersburg PD also received specialized Staccato team instructional training and drills, which the department feels eased any potential growing pains.
Police officers generally hate change, whether it is swapping to a different patrol vehicle or changes in paperwork or the booking process. Changing the one tool that an officer may have to depend upon to save his/her life, or the life of another, is not something they want to worry about. In Petersburg PD’s case, the positive feedback from officers and increased qualification scores shows that they made the right decision.
Even though investing in officers is of the utmost importance, one of the biggest deciding purchasing factors will always be money. The Staccato P, along with accessories including weapon-mounted red dot, light, and compatible holster, totaled $2,825.32 per officer. If an agency is not able to provide this set-up due to budget, it is possible to approve policy allowing officers to carry a personally-owned firearm. An agency buy-back program is a good way to support officers in their preferred firearm choice by fronting the purchase and having the officer pay it back over time.
It is up to the individual agency to decide whether or not any piece of equipment is worth the money; clearly equipping officers with Staccatos was worth it for Petersburg Police Department. “It was well worth the investment,” Kerr told me. “The confidence boost provided to the officers is outstanding.”
Visit Staccato for more information.
About the Author
Pete Goode is a former Royal Marines Commando sniper and helicopter sniper team leader. After becoming an American citizen, he entered into law enforcement and became a firearms instructor, CQB instructor, Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) instructor, SWAT sniper and SWAT Sniper Team Leader. His law enforcement experience includes working patrol, Crimes Against Persons and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC). With over 15 years of instructor experience, Pete is passionate about continuing to learn and develop skills and tactics and passing them on to his fellow operators and officers.