Officers of the Spokane Police Department are set to be issued suppressors for their patrol rifles. The Department says the move is an effort to protect officers and civilian bystanders’ hearing. Spokane PD will equip all 181 of their patrol rifles with Gemtech suppressors in a contract worth $115,202 recently signed off by Spokane’s City Council. This marks the first time a police department has deployed suppressors across all its patrol rifles.
The City Council and PD hope the decision will head off potential legal costs of hearing loss compensation claims filed by officers and lawsuits filed by civilians. Spokane PD’s SWAT team have used suppressors since 2013 and the local Sheriff’s Office have also been weighing up adopting them. Spokane’s officers have used their patrol rifles in 12 out of 26 incidents since 2010.
Spokane PD were quick to allay civilian fears about cops using ‘silencers’ with the Department’s lead firearms instructor Lt. Rob Boothe saying: “It’s nothing more than like the muffler you put on your car.” He explained: “They’re still pretty loud – enough to where if you’re standing there, you would hear it and get that startle effect. They’re just safer within the [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] standard.”
Spokane City Council members were satisfied with the explanations of how the suppressors will improve safety provided by the police department, Councilwoman Candace Mumm said: “It was expressed to us the intent of using the suppressor was only to protect the officers and the public, not to make others unaware of the weapon.”