Facing a possible gender discrimination claim from female candidates who failed the LA County Sheriff’s Academy, the LA County Sheriff’s Department changed to a gun with an easier trigger pull and accidental shootings among deputies rose from 12 in 2012 to 30 in 2014.
Under the threat of a gender discrimination suit, the LA County Sheriff’s Department switched from the Beretta 92F–a heavy metal gun with a large grip and an external safety–to the Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm–which is a polymer gun with a grip more suitable to smaller hands and no external safety.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the changeover began in 2011.
The initial trigger pull on the Beretta 92F is double action–it both cocks the hammer and then releases it. Because of this, is requires a significant amount of pressure to pull the trigger back on the first shot. The Times puts the trigger pull at 12 to 15 pounds.
This forced “some” of those trying out at the academy to pull the trigger with two fingers, which ruined accuracy. On top of this, “People with small hands often have trouble flipping up the Beretta’s safety as they prepare to fire.”
The Smith & Wesson has no external safety to mess with and its trigger pull is “6 to 8 pounds” every time, so it requires less strength to operate.
The trade-off? Deputies are accidentally firing their guns at a higher rate.
But Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers described the accidental discharges as no fault of the gun. Rather, he cited the fact that most deputies were trained in the use of the Beretta and are now simply being re-trained in the use of the Smith & Wesson. He said that deputies were still adjusting to the differences between the new guns.
It should be noted that the switch to the M&P is optional for those who pass the academy. Deputies can still carry the Beretta if they wish.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.