WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new survey of over 400 law enforcement professionals from coast to coast showed a surprisingly high level of interest in firearms that can only be operated by the authorized user (i.e. “smart guns”). The online SurveyMonkey study was administered by the King County, Washington Sheriffs Office. Respondents included law enforcement professionals from that department along with Seattle City Police, as well as the Montgomery County, Maryland police department.
Some 58% of law enforcement professionals expressed some degree of interest in smart guns once they were proven reliable, with half of that number (29%) indicating very strong/extreme interest. According to King County Sheriff John Urquhart whose department made up a significant part of the survey: “The results showed that a significant majority of metro police are open to the idea of smart guns providing they are rigorously tested. I see this as very good news given that user authorized firearms can help protect our officers from the danger of gun grabs as well as the criminal activity involving the hundreds of thousands of firearms stolen annually by criminal suspects.”
The survey showed that gun grabs are a primary concern of almost all in law enforcement with 84% of respondents indicating some degree of concern and some 27% having experienced an actual gun grab event first hand. The concern is further justified given recent research by Johns Hopkins University that shows when a law enforcement official’s firearm is taken from them, an assault is more than twice as likely to end in a fatality. And many police are ambivalent at best about the effectiveness of devices such as holster hoods and straps that are designed to prevent gun grabs, according to survey results.
The issue of gun grabs made national headlines as recently as last month when two Georgia prison guards were murdered by two inmates who took their weapons during a bus transfer. According to research by the Washington Post, over 50 law enforcement professionals have been killed by gun grabs in a recent ten-year period.
The survey also indicated that lost or stolen police guns remain a significant problem with over 36% of officers surveyed knowing a fellow officer who has lost his or her firearm, or had it stolen. Research by two separate news agencies in California found that some metro police audits in that state discovered as many as 300 police firearms to be lost and missing (San Jose Police 2010 audit).
Perhaps an even bigger concern for police professionals is the danger presented to both law enforcement and the public by the hundreds of thousands of firearms stolen annually by criminals. Some 87% of police respondents expressed some degree of concern here with over one in four respondents expressing extreme concern.
The results of this unique survey on police and public safety concerns will be discussed at a 10am press conference preceding the Law Enforcement and Smart Gun Symposium at the Henley Park Hotel on August 3, 2017 in downtown Washington, DC.