The Milwaukee Police Department will replace its current service weapon, which has unintentionally fired and injured two of its officers since 2020, with a more reliable option in 2023.
Mayor Cavalier Johnson, alongside Police Chief Jeffrey Norman, announced Monday that the department’s standard weapon, the Sig Sauer P320, will be phased out by the end of the year. The switch will cost the department $450,000, which will be funded with seized assets from its criminal investigations, according to the mayor.
“Police officers who serve our city, they’ve got enough on their plate to worry about,” Johnson said during a press conference Monday. “They certainly shouldn’t have to worry about their sidearms firing off unexpectedly.”
The replacement firearm will be manufactured by Glock, not Sig Sauer.
The most recent department incident involving the faulty Sig Sauer firearm occurred on Sept. 10. A 41-year-old officer was injured when a colleague’s weapon fired while in its holster. In July 2020, an officer suffered a gunshot to the knee from a colleague’s firearm as they arrested a suspect. There was a third incident of an accidental P320 discharge in January 2021 involving a plainclothes officer whose gun went off in its holster as he exited a vehicle. Luckily, he avoided injury.
The Sig Sauer P320 has a long history of firing when it’s not supposed to, particularly among law enforcement officers. As early as 2017, cops in Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Connecticut, and even federal agents have reported the gun firing without warning. The MPD will join several other police departments, including the Stamford Police Department and the Dallas Police Department, in phasing out the use of the weapon.
Last year, VICE News spoke to one officer in Florida whose P320 went off during a high school baseball game. The bullet shattered multiple bones in his ankle and required surgery to fix. Michigan-based gunsmithing and weapons expert and former federal police officer Steve Howard told VICE News the P320 is “the most goddamn unsafe thing on the planet.”
Robert Zimmerman, an attorney representing at least nine civilians and law enforcement officers injured by accidental discharges of the P320 across Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma Pennsylvania, and New York, told local Milwaukee NBC affiliate TMJ4 that he has at least 20 additional cases involving the weapon pending.
“We’ve seen over 100 incidents, and we know of over 100 incidents of unintended discharges with the P320,” Zimmerman told the outlet. “I don’t think anyone should feel safe with this particular gun in their community.”
Despite at least 22 federal lawsuits filed against the manufacturer since 2018, Sig Sauer has stood by their product. In 2017, the manufacturer opened what it called a “voluntary upgrade” program allowing users to exchange the models that feature the accident-prone heavier trigger and other parts with alternatives meant to reduce unwanted firing. However, even this exchange program was treated as an optional way to improve “both its ergonomics and performance” rather than a proper recall of a weapon with a safety risk.
Sig Sauer did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
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