Published: Monday, November 5, 2007
Cops run low on ammo
Police difficulty in getting ammunition hasn't
affected civilian supplies.
America's war on terror is affecting efforts at home to police communities.
Some police officials in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys are having problems getting ammunition.
Salem Police Chief Robert Floor said there are backlogs on orders for all calibers of bullets used by the military. That includes 5.56 millimeter and 7.62 mm for rifles and 9mm for pistols used by the Salem department.
"Anything else is available," Floor said. Money isn't an issue: Floor said a two-year order for ammunition would cost the department $2,700. He said the backlog is a "mild slowdown."
Some police departments have had to devise ways to cope with shortages.
"We've had difficulty over the last year getting .223 ammo for M-16s, it's been a back order for us and the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force Crisis Response Team," said Detective William Blanchard, Youngstown Police Department fiscal officer. "It's nothing major. We just try to plan a little better" in ordering.
Blanchard said there has also been difficulty in obtaining nonlethal practice ammo they call it "simunition." Other than that, there are no problems with ammo for officers' .40-caliber service weapons and shotguns, he said.
Getting bullets has been a problem for East Liverpool Police Chief Michael McVay's department. McVay said his department canceled a training shoot earlier this year with St. Clair Township police because of the shortage. East Liverpool did have its annual departmental shoot earlier this year, but fired fewer rounds.
Patrol officers were issued remaining new ammunition while nonpatrol officers, including the chief, are carrying ammunition that is more than a year old. McVay said the department's order for .40-caliber pistol and .223-caliber rifle (also known as the 5.56 millimeter) has been delayed until January. The chief said there could be problems if the shortage continues into 2008.
Liberty Township Capt. Richard Tisone said his police department has had problems getting the .223-caliber rifle rounds and has been told there is at least a six-month backlog. The township has, however, created a stockpile by ordering early.
Tisone said the township will maintain that stockpile by shooting a lot less. He said officers previously would test shoot more than required by the state.
Poland Village Chief Russell Beatty said he stocked up on ammunition last year. Chief Brian Goodin of Poland Township said he hasn't tried to order ammunition yet this year, but that there was a slight delay in getting some last year.
In Austintown, Lt. Bryan Kloss said the department is running low. The department placed an order more than a year ago and has not received it. Kloss said the shortage affects practice ammunition and ammunition for the service weapons.
East Palestine Police Chief Larry Hoffmeister said there's a shortage of 9mm and .40-caliber pistol bullets, both of which are used by the military. The chief said that his department doesn't use a lot of ammunition. If needed, he said he could go to a gun shop a five-minute drive into Pennsylvania and get reloaded shell casings in any caliber needed.
Lowellville Police Chief William Vance said the only ammunition he has had a problem getting is the .223-caliber used by the military M-16 rifle, and that was only about a two-week delay.
Struthers Police Chief Robert Norris said his department had some .223-caliber ammunition left over from 2006. "But, if I had to order it now, I would be in trouble."
Norris also said it took about six months to get the department's entire order of .40-caliber ammunition for its duty side arm. "I don't let the stock run down to zero, so we had enough to get by, even with the delay," Norris said.
The slowdown hasn't seemed to affect civilian ammunition supplies.
Marlene Miller, manager at Miller Rod & Gun, Youngstown-Poland Road, Boardman, said the store has plenty of ammunition on hand. Similarly, Jeff Hennion, chief marketing officer at Dick's Sporting Goods of Pittsburgh, which operates stores in Boardman and Niles, said that company also hasn't encountered problems in buying ammunition.
Hubbard city Officer Bob Altier said his department avoided problems by ordering enough rifle bullets to last through 2007. He plans to "get ahead of the game" by ordering now for 2008. Lisbon Police Chief John C. Higgins said he, too, avoided the problem by ordering early.
Police chiefs in Pennsylvania say their suppliers have warned them of possible shortages and advised them to order early.
New Castle Police Chief Tom Sansone said he was told in September that it would be an eight- or nine-month wait for ammunition that they normally get in about two weeks. Sansone said his department still has some stockpiled, but he ordered more because of the longer wait.
Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Chief Riley Smoot did the same. "We should have enough ammunition until this new shipment arrives," he said.