published Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office says county short on ammo

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond speaks to Times Free Press editorial board members.
Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond speaks to Times Free Press editorial board members.
Photo by Patrick Smith.

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office deputies are qualifying at the range using only two-thirds the amount of ammunition they normally use, said Sgt. Jody Mays during a presentation to county commissioners on the safety and security meeting.

"We typically have always tried to have in a given year 300 rounds of ammunition for every officer on their firearms day," he said. "Currently, we've had to reduce that because of rising costs of ammunition over several years."

The state contract for ammunition purchases was tied up part of last year during litigation, Mays said. As a result, ammunition was backordered, he said. When transactions began moving again, the national headlines were graced with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy which sparked calls for expanding gun control. Before the shooting, it would take two to four months to get an order back. Now, estimates are it would 180 to 270 days for orders to be filled.

Each year the sheriff's office purchases 150,000 to 200,000 rounds of .40-caliber ammunition for deputies to fire from their department-issued Glocks. The department also purchases 50,000 to 75,000 rounds for the department's AR-15s and shotguns. Rounds average about 62 cents, Mays said.

Now deputies are qualifying with 205 rounds.

"It's forced us to be more challenging with the types of scenarios and use ammunition more economically," he said. "There might be an incorporation of dummy rounds."

Sheriff Jim Hammond said he is concerned about how the availability of ammunition will impact training for deputies. When officers are involved in shooting, they typically hit their targets about 30 percent of the time.

"The key to firearms training is that you are able to shoot without thinking. The less rounds you can practice with the more you are going to see with long-term results when you're actually in a scenario," he said. "You're just not giving them the exposure they need."

Mays said the problem of less ammunition doesn't appear to hinder officers qualifying though.

"What I can tell you is our qualification percentages have not dropped," he said.

Other items discussed included:

• Replacing the department's 110 laptops with Apple iPads. Moving to an iPad would be cheaper than purchasing new laptops, sheriff's office officials said. Laptops could cost up to $6,500. An iPad would be about $850.

• Commissioner Joe Graham broached the topic of purchasing Volkswagen Passat TDIs for the department's patrol fleet after speaking with officers at nearby departments.

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