Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Government Waste in St Louis

I read the website for my local paper 4 or 5 days a week.  It's got a fair bit of liberal bias to the editorials, but that's pretty common in traditional newspapers.  It's also serving a primarily left-leaning city, so it makes sense their editorial staff would match the readers political disposition.

Once in a while though one of the articles surprises me.  It really seems like they don't do much research into a lot of stories, and one I read today really highlighted that.  The story talked about the local police department and how some officers were getting raises and the department was getting some new guns.  Seems like a pretty normal and dry story for a local beat reporter, right?

There are two things that struck me.  First was the story erroneously called out what rifles the department was buying.  The line from the article says:

The nonprofit also donated $81,000 to buy 45 Titan B/SL rifles to be carried in all district supervisor's vehicles.

I'm a gun guy, and I've never heard (or am able to find on the Internet) a rifle model or company called Titan.  There are lots of gun products with the name Titan- air guns, scopes and stocks are some examples, but no Titan rifle, especially not a B/SL model.  It's not really a big deal, somebody probably just looked at an invoice and didn't know what they were seeing.  Reporters are reknowned for getting details about guns wrong.  I'm guessing they are some variant of an AR-15 rifle with an optic based on the price per unit and current trends regarding the militarization of police departments.  Of course, the above statement seems to be in conflict with the opening line of the story as well: 

St. Louis police officers will get the raises they have been denied since 2008 along with new shotguns in their cars, while sergeants and above will get new rifles but no raises.

So is it all sergeants and above ranking officers are getting rifles, or are district supervisor cars getting them?  Once again, not a big deal, it just really seems like shoddy reporting to me.  The bigger issue to me is the other purchase, the shotguns.  The shotguns are being purchased to replace the pistol caliber carbines in the patrol cars.  See, in 2005, the St Louis Police Department got rid of their shotguns to purchase Beretta Storm carbines that take the same magazines as their issue pistols.  This was supposed to offer a firepower advantage over the shotguns.  Oddly enough, the shotguns they got rid of were Remington 870's, the exact same gun they are buying now to replace the Beretta Storms.

No biggie, right?  I mean, somebody made a bad call in 2004, bought some guns that didn't meet their needs and they are reversing that now.  The part that gets me is what was left out of the article and that is all the waste involved in this.

To buy the Berettas originally the department spent half a million dollars.  For 400 rifles.  400 rifles that at the time sold for $550 each in a local shop.  It seems they were equipped with a laser scope or something to cover the other $700 they paid for each one.  This article doesn't say what they are doing with the Beretta being replaced with shotguns.  Are they going to re-issue them?  Sell them?  Trade them in on the shotguns?  I bet a gently used Storm carbine could get $350 on the wholesale market if they sold the lot to a wholesaler.  Well, I'm going to guess they are going to do the same thing they did with the shotguns when they were replaced.

Oh yeah!  What happened to all those shotguns that were replaced by carbines back in 2005?  They can probably just roll them out of storage, right?  Um, no. 

The old guns will not be sent in on trade, they will be melted down as scrap.

This was the only article I could quickly find which called that out at the time, but I remember at the time the police department actually paid $60 per shotgun to have them melted down.  So rather than trade in the shotguns on carbines for $120 or so wholesale, or sit them in a locker for free, they paid to melt them down and are now replacing the carbines with exactly the same shotguns they paid to have melted down.

That's a serious waste of taxpayer money in the name of politics and this article didn't mention it at all.  That's shameful.


  1. Oh but they did not want those Bad Evil Shotguns to get into the hands of...folks like me? I mean, I would have paid $300 for the 'used' 870 instead of the $60 they got for it in scrap which would have covered the cost of the Storm that replaced it. I'd understand that they could not sell the Storms to private citizens as I would assume they were not the semi-auto version but the select fire, but I am sure they could have found another PD that would have picked them up for a discounted price.

    Guess they didn't want the Sergents to know they spent their wage increases on basically nothing.

    Glad to see that my City Wage Tax is being spent on something beyond useless...

    It seems that this is an excellent example of why the City should NOT have control over the pention plans of the First Responders...

    1. Surprise, the Beretta never released a CX4 Storm carbine in select fire. Semi-auto only, even for GOV/M/LEO sales. What they spent averages out to $1250/carbine for a gun that even today in 2013 has an MSRP of $900...and by the $550 price they listed for in '05, that doesn't even factor in the almost certain bulk + LE discounts they received.
      So who pocketed the, a the least, extra $280k? Calling Elliott Davis! We paid for it!