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Baltimore County Police Duty Weapons Were Firing Without Cops Touching Trigger

Safety concerns have been raised repeatedly since the department switched to FN Herstal FNS40 Long Slide guns in 2014.

Baltimore County, MD – New safety concerns have been raised regarding the duty weapons issued by the Baltimore County Police Department, due to incidents where the weapon allegedly fired without anyone pulling the trigger.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety recently notified the Baltimore department of a striker problem they discovered during their examination of the FN Herstal FNS40 Long Slide duty weapons, WBFF reported.

The Baltimore County Police Department purchased the weapons for approximately $1 million in 2014, but officers and supervisors soon questioned its safety and reliability, according to WBFF.

“Look, I carry the weapon. My son carries the weapon. These officers I love and their families carry the weapons,” Baltimore County’s then-Police Chief Jim Johnson told WBFF at the time. “I don’t want anything out there that’s inferior. I won’t stand for it. I don’t care what the cost. If I made a mistake, which I certainly don’t believe we did, I would admit it.”

But according to the news outlet, the officers’ concerns and complaints about the weapon were documented through a series of emails.

Improper holster fit, unintentional discharges, and questions about the testing the weapons had been subjected to prior to being issued to the officers were all issues raised by members of the department.

Some of the weapons were replaced that year, after small metal shavings caused them to jam.

In 2016, as an officer was walking down a department hallway, his FNS40 discharged in its holster.

An officer at the Towson precinct was loading her gear into a patrol vehicle in November of 2017 when her holstered weapon fired, hitting her in the leg, WBFF reported.

The department subsequently purchased new holsters for the department to alleviate the issue, at a cost of $187,662.

In August, the Arizona Department of Public Safety determined that, if damaged or defective, the FNS40’s striker can cause the weapon to discharge without a trigger pull, WBFF reported.

The company replaced all of the Baltimore County Police Department’s strikers just weeks later.

But while the fix was being made, a department-issued FNS40 discharged before a training session at the Baltimore County Pistol Range Training Center, injuring an officer.

“The officer was disassembling the FNS-40,” a department official said in an email, according to WBFF. “He suffered the minor injury when his service weapon discharged and was transported to a local hospital.”

It's not clear why the officer was disassembling a loaded pistol.

The Baltimore County Police Department said the striker issue was not the cause of the accidental discharges the department has experienced.

When questioned, FN Herstal did not address the incidents of unintentional discharges, WBFF reported.

“The FNS-40 meets all safety and reliability requirements set forth by Baltimore County Police Department, and to our knowledge, has performed exceptionally in the line of duty,” the company told the news outlet in an email.

Holly Matkin - September Mon, 2018

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