The rate of negligent discharges among L.A. County sheriff’s deputies has more than doubled from 2012 to 2014, from 12 to 30 — and according to officials, the reason has to do with the lack of familiarity with the newly implemented Smith & Wesson M&P 9.
For nearly two decades the weapon of choice for L.A. County deputies has been the Beretta 92F, a proven weapon with a double action trigger pull of 12 to 15 pounds and a single action trigger pull of four pounds.
In recent years, however, many deputies have been switching over to the Smith & Wesson M&P 9, a striker fire pistol with a consistent trigger pull of only six to eight pounds, substantially less than its predecessor.
Many find the M&P easier to fire accurately, but it’s lack of physical safety and relatively light trigger pull means those Beretta-trained deputies who were told to keep their finger on the trigger (the old saying, “on target, on trigger”) while aiming are more likely to negligently fire their new weapons.
“The vast majority [of negligent discharges] were people trained on the Beretta,” said Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers in an interview with the LA Times. “There is a correlation, no doubt about it.”
The L.A. County sheriff’s office recognizes the need for increased training and now requires their deputies to qualify four times a year instead of three. They also mandate all deputies take a course designed to train away from the Beretta habits. Those deputies who have negligently discharged their weapons are typically required to repeat the training.
“We call them training scars,” said Rogers. “It’s muscle memory. And especially in stressful situations, people revert to their training.”
(This article was a submission by freelance writer Brent McCluskey)