Sunday, August 3, 2003

Cleveland police want bigger guns

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - City police want more powerful handguns that fire bigger bullets, saying they would be better at stopping dangerous suspects, but the campaign has stalled amid the police shooting deaths of six civilians last year.

Mayor Jane Campbell won't buy the larger guns because she's afraid of upsetting residents who don't trust officers, police union president Bob Beck said.

Beck wants the city to replace the department's Smith and Wesson 9 mm handguns with Glock .40-caliber guns.

City Safety Director James Draper said the 9 mm weapons are so dependable that two-thirds of the police departments in the country use them, he said.

"It was not a political issue. It was a safety issue," Draper said. "My concern is our police officers don't get hurt and die and neither do our citizens."

Telephone messages were left Saturday with members of Campbell's press office.

The .40-caliber bullets are heavier and slightly wider, so they would inflict more damage and be more likely to make a suspect fall, Beck said. Both guns are semiautomatic weapons, not revolvers.

"We're having suspects that are hit and still shooting," Beck said. "This is a necessary piece of equipment that will help police defend themselves."

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