No response from Milwaukee officials over police lawsuit

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Police officers in Milwaukee don’t seem to trust their sidearms.

They carry the Sig Sauer P320, a firearm popular with a lot of people and basically the same pistol the United States Army issues to the troops. However, in the past, this model has had some issues.

In fact, while Sig refused to explicitly admit there were issues, they did tacitly do so by offering free upgrades.

Yet that hasn’t stopped accidental discharges–not negligent discharges, mind you, but true accidental discharges–from happening. Two officers have been injured in Milwaukee because of it. So, now there’s a lawsuit.

And officials there still haven’t responded.

WISN 12 News learned from Milwaukee Common Council members Tuesday morning there is no update or timeline for the city to respond to the Milwaukee Police Association’s lawsuit.

The police union sued the city Sept. 19 over officers’ weapons firing on their own.

The union claims the city knew about the discharge dangers and malfunction of the Sig Sauer P320 guns before purchasing them for all officers to carry.

The union gave the city 20 days to respond, and as that deadline approaches this weekend, there appears to be no movement from the city.

This comes after a special public safety committee meeting Friday when the committee and City Attorney met behind closed doors to discuss legal strategies.

It seems that much of this hinges on whether city officials actually did know of the discharge risks and did nothing about them. If so, that’s a huge problem.

I get concerns over taxpayer money, but the upgrades Sig offered were free. There would be little financial impact from taking advantage of it and it would increase officer safety.

Since it looks like that didn’t happen, it’s bad news for the city of Milwaukee.

There’s still time for the city to respond, though indications are that they won’t do so by the deadline.

And that’s an issue.

You see, a number of officers are so distrustful of their weapons that safety is being impacted in other ways.

Wagner said the fear officers face is reaching new heights. He explained some officers no longer take their weapons home, and others aren’t keeping a round in the chamber for fear of a misfire.

It’s a move that could be life-threatening.

“If an officer doesn’t have a round in the chamber most likely their life would be in peril by the time they racked a round into that chamber,” Wagner said. “So, when an officer tells me they’re afraid to even keep a round in that chamber because they’re afraid of the gun misfiring, I know that’s a huge safety concern.”

I regularly make fun of people who think they can rack the slide when they need their firearm. It’s idiotic from a tactical standpoint, and it’s even dumber when a police officer does it.

But in this case, it’s a matter of them thinking that the risks of having a round in the chamber are greater than the risk of having to chamber a round. Considering Milwaukee police alone have seen three accidental discharges, I kind of get where they’re coming from.

Yet this represents a huge problem for the city even without a lawsuit.

My hope is that Milwaukee officials and the police union can sit down and figure this out. I get the lawsuit, but what the police need is the ability to trust their duty weapons.