Pa. officers to swap out personal firearms for township-issued guns

Since the 1960s, the officers have carried their own guns on the job, like many small municipal forces

By Joyce Hanz
The Valley News-Dispatch

ALLEGHENY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Police officers in Allegheny Township soon will swap out their personal firearms for township-issued guns.

Since the 1960s, the officers have carried their own guns on the job, like many small municipal forces.

Allegheny Township police Chief Duane Fisher waited more than a year for the arrival of 15 Glock 17 Gen5 MOS pistols and holsters.

Fisher welcomed the new guns, describing them as a critical need.

"I'm elated that the district attorney and her chief detective recognized our need and assisted us in crossing the finish line to finally issue standardized firearms. The primary driving factor behind this initiative is safety," Fisher said. "Uniform firearms, holsters and ammunition, combined with the capability of adding auxiliary lighting and advance sighting systems will increase firearm handling safety and recognize benefits for the officers and the public."

Township Manager Greg Primm said supply issues delayed the delivery of ammunition.

The 11 full-time and two part-time officers are expected to use the new guns after their annual qualification in May.

"It's always a great benefit to the residents we serve to acquire the best tools to provide the best services," Primm said. "Uniform side arms are a great complement to our police force and will help make their jobs safer moving forward."

Primm noted the Glock is the dominant firearm previously used by officers in the department.

"Transition and training should be relatively seamless," he said. "Officers will be put through familiarization and qualification courses before the firearms are deployed on patrol."

Officers will use the same type of pistol, holster and caliber of ammunition.

"A few benefits include standardized ammunition and magazines, reduced recoil for accuracy and increased capacity," Primm said.

The total cost for the firearms and accessories is about $9,400.

Fisher said the guns will be issued to officers next week.

At the March 2022 township supervisors meeting, Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli presented Fisher with a check for $9,300 toward the purchase of weapons. Ziccarelli said the funding came from illicit drug money forfeitures.

Supervisor James Morabito said he prioritized providing township-issued firearms for officers after he was elected in 2021 and learned the officers had to use their own weapons.

Morabito initially contacted Ziccarelli in January 2022 about getting new guns.

"I worked so hard to get their new handguns. The funds came from drug task force money, and zero taxpayer money was spent," Morabito said. "In my opinion, this has been ridiculous that it's taken this long to provide firearms to the officers. The safety of these officers is my first priority."

(c)2023 The Valley News-Dispatch (Tarentum, Pa.)
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