Washington PD Getting Suppressors for All Rifles for Hearing Protection

Lt. Rob Boothe demonstrating a Smith & Wesson M&P-15 with a Gemtech Patrolman. (Photo: Dan Pelle/Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane, Wash. Police Department is outfitting all of their patrol rifles with suppressors for safety reasons. After multiple officers filed claims of hearing loss as a result of gunfire the City Council agreed to purchase almost 200 units for police use.

“It’s nothing more than like the muffler you put on your car,” said Lt. Rob Boothe, Spokane P.D. range master and lead firearms instructor, to the Spokesman-Review. This is the exact same argument many Americans are making to ease suppressor regulations.

The department says that the suppressors will make it safer for the police using the rifles as well as for bystanders. Unsuppressed rifles are loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss to anyone not wearing hearing protection.

Patrolman suppressors are lightweight, direct-thread titanium cans rated for full-auto use and short-barreled rifles. (Photo: Gemtech)

While many in law enforcement see it as a good thing, some Spokane residents voiced anxiety over the police use of suppressors.

“Those are serious concerns. Especially in this day and age of things that are going on with the public and law enforcement,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

“We protect our people to the best that we can,” said the sheriff. “At the same time, we need to be cognizant of having the public understand why we would purchase that piece of equipment.”

“There’s this Hollywood mystique,” said Boothe, who pushed for the suppressors. “Probably the best way to say it, beyond [calling them] suppressors, is this is an OSHA-approved noise reduction device.”

“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets the bar at which people experience hearing damage at 140 decibels,” explains the NRA. “The discharge of the type of rifle used by Spokane P.D. measures at 152 decibels.

“The suppressor in use by SPD reduces that to 134 decibels — just under the OSHA safety level. The sound emitted from those rifles will still be louder than that of a chainsaw.”

The Spokane P.D. is getting Gemtech Patrolman suppressors to match their M&P rifles. Smith & Wesson makes the M&P series of rifles and purchased Gemtech earlier this year.

The department is getting a pretty good deal, 181 suppressors for $115,000. Patrolman suppressors have a suggested retail price of $875.

See Also: Smith & Wesson Acquires Suppressor Manufacturer Gemtech

The Spokane P.D. is currently working with five officers over their hearing loss claims. “If we have to buy those for a person who lives another 30 to 40 years, these suppressors will more than pay for themselves,” said Maj. Eric Olsen.

According to police records, the department fired rifles in nearly half of all officer-involved shootings since 2009. Since 2010 every single officer-involved shooting included rifles.

Since these guns are being used frequently — and sometimes primarily — suppressors make a lot of sense. The Spokane P.D. SWAT team put suppressors on all their rifles in 2013 for similar reasons.

About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. His ambition is to follow Thomas Paine, as a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Michael Boyd March 17, 2018, 11:24 am

    I question the reasons for the Spokane PD purchasing the suppressors. For one thing, a suppressed weapon is harder to locate if you are being fired upon, if you get my drift. Secondly, I would like to see the numbers on the average number of rounds fired during a confrontation with a bad guy using the .223/5.56 or .308/7.62 weapon (though I doubt that the .308/7.62 is commonly used in LE). I’m not sure if the numbers would point to a need for suppression, but it couldn’t hurt either…I also wonder if the damage to hearing would not not be the result of not wearing hearing protection during practice, though I would be surprised if hearing protection would not be required for practice. I know that I always wear hearing protection when I am practicing, even with .22 ammo. Just some of my thoughts.

  • Archangel October 29, 2017, 8:24 pm

    It should be an issue if you DON’T get a suppressor for a rifle or pistol, just like when you drive without a muffler.
    It does not make them silent, but just not as loud!

  • KurtW October 27, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Have the Everytown asstards weighed-in on this? That should be entertaining.

  • Charlie October 27, 2017, 11:51 am

    The second was intended to protect the citizens of this country from the government. If the police departments can have them then ALL citizens that own firearms should be allowed to own them without restriction or taxation. The second intended for the people to have firearms EQUAL to any established governing agency. This is a historical fact! We should remove all people in our government by the vote of the people and start new.No more career politicians. Term limits are in order NOW.

  • Mike V October 27, 2017, 10:19 am

    All of their officer involved shootings since 2010 were with rifles? That’s curious. Wonder what the story is with that.

  • joefoam October 27, 2017, 8:48 am

    Good enough for the government but not for the citizenship? What’s wrong with this picture?

    • Texan October 27, 2017, 10:07 am

      Citizens are nothing more than dairy cow to provide milk for the govt. Citizens’ hearing loss is not a matter of concern for the govt and its police force.

  • Mike October 27, 2017, 8:48 am

    And I’m sure they have the BATF tax stamp for each and every one of those. Yeah right! What about a law abiding citzen?

  • harold sheets October 26, 2017, 1:39 am

    I own a silencer and think any body honest and obeying the law can own one. It took me over a year to receive my 22 caliber silencer thru the government .Just to shoot rats out of my pig pen who new? I’m 75 with no record other than speeding times.

    • Cyrus October 27, 2017, 10:30 am

      . . . took me a year as well. I thought they were just jerking me here in CT but I found out that the 1 year stall is nationwide. I like the comment from Joefoam – he is exactly right!

    • Leighton Cavendish October 27, 2017, 3:06 pm

      Why not just get a nice air rifle if all you are shooting is rats?
      I am pro 2A…but the right tool for the job. And way cheaper and faster.

  • Nick M October 20, 2017, 11:30 am

    Imagine a belt fed without hearing protection. Ouch.

    • harold sheets October 26, 2017, 1:42 am

      You know it brother I agree.

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