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Posted: 8/2/2003 9:46:00 PM EDT
The Sun newspaper this morning described the new Berettas as Vertecs. The Chief of the MTA ( retired Baltimore patrolman and ex-FOP president)said the pistols have a "design flaw". Article attached. The fact that the 'flaw' was discovered by 'new hires' gives me pause

Transportation authority police switch guns
'Design flaw' prevents some from firing properly
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By Stephanie Desmon
Sun Staff
Originally published August 2, 2003



After discovering what the chief called a "design flaw" in the .40-caliber pistols being carried by the Maryland Transportation Authority's more than 400 police officers, officials pulled the weapons off the street late Thursday and yesterday, replacing them with 10-year-old weapons the authority had retired this year.
The authority's tests revealed that the guns - the Vertec model made by Beretta - were not reliably firing when the trigger was pulled, a potentially deadly problem should an officer be in a dangerous situation and try to use the weapon, said authority Police Chief Gary W. McLhinney. Concerned about the potential defect, McLhinney said, he notified police departments around the country warning them of his department's findings.

Beretta officials said they will investigate, but added that they haven't had any other complaints about the Vertec. "At this moment, we don't know that there is a problem," said Cathy Williams, spokeswoman for Beretta USA, based in Accokeek in Prince George's County. "Until we have time to inspect the handgun, we can't comment on this."

The authority's officers received new guns in January, after the previous administration decided it was just time to replace the old Berettas, which had been in service since 1993. The replacement weapon - for which the authority paid $478 apiece - is a slimmer, lighter model, easier for smaller hands to fire.

The trigger problem, McLhinney said, was at first believed to be fairly isolated, but this week the problem was found to be in more guns as they were tested by new hires. "We realized the flaw could possibly occur in all of them," he said.

He made the decision late Thursday to get them off the street. He was so concerned about the potential safety hazard, he said, that some officers had their guns replaced in the field while they were on duty.

McLhinney contacted Beretta Thursday and hopes to exchange them for a new model of gun or have these guns repaired. He said he expects a Beretta representative to meet with officials Monday, though Williams said she knew nothing of a visit.

"Unfortunately, I have to go back to the old one [gun] until I'm 100 percent satisfied that the flaw has been fixed before I give a single one back to our officers," McLhinney said.

"Certainly, when you find a problem like that, you don't want to take any chances," said authority Cpl. Gregory Prioleau.

The authority police department protects the state's bridges and tunnels, the Port of Baltimore and Baltimore-Washington International Airport.


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