9/15/2011 9:58:00 AM City to buy Wyoming P.D. officer's weapons
BY DENISE MARTIN
Wyoming Chief of Police Paul Hoppe obviously had done his homework before coming to council last week with an $11,000 request. For almost an hour Hoppe took questions from Wyoming City Council members about his new department policy that requires the city taxpayer to provide an officer's firearm.
Hoppe asked for 12 guns and accessories to be purchased at a cost of $11,849. The weapons will be assigned to each of 11 officers, who can take them home. (There's one extra weapon to be available when someone's gun is out of service.)
The city's controls and risk management will be improved by doing this, the chief contended. Hoppe said the city also alleviates the burden of a new officer having to front $1,000 to buy a weapon upon being hired.
The "privately owned" guns that are used now are various calibers and make/models. Standardizing department weapons is the chief's main goal. Hoppe added that training is simplified when everyone has the same weapon. Repair and maintenance will be easier to administer. Any discharge of the firearm is also important to be able to track and when the gun is owned by the city, officers won't be able to take them hunting, etc. said the chief.
The weapon choice came through "committee" to best suit the department as a whole, he concluded.
The council vote was 4-1 to allow the department to mandate officers use a 45 caliber Sig Sauer P220 and the city will provide the gun and holster and ammo/ tactical light for each officer.
Council member Steve Zerwas was the lone no vote on council. Zerwas, who works for another law enforcement department, told the Press after the meeting he believes weapons should remain an individual officer's choice, as long as the firearm is acceptable for police work.
The funds come out of the city capital improvement plan account. Chief Hoppe said he was advised there's a $45,709 balance available. City Administrator Craig Mattson told council to view this as a purchase just like any other department might request gear as a safety measure.
City Attorney Mark Vierling also said having a uniform weapon required is considered a good municipal practice and it could also avoid future personnel-based conflicts or grievances.
Council member Linda Nanko-Yeager noted the officers' union contract language needs to be revised. She pointed out discrepancies in the union document related to prior weapons practice as well as this new approach. She was told the contract she referenced is expired, and is under negotiation and there is no contract in effect at this time. The chief agreed that the way the union contract is worded "there's a conflict there" between what's been happening and what's in the contract.