So, anyone who really knows me, knows that I either wanted to join the Marines, or be a police officer since I was a kid. At 16 I did my first ride a long, with Officer Jason Young of the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office (JSO), who I still talk to here and there. It was the ride a longs with him that really told me that my calling in life was to be a Police Officer, and since that ride a long, I had been a kind of fan boy with JSO, and have collected a decent history of patches and badges of JSO, and the previous departments that rained over the city before it consolidated. In fact, the badge in the main photo is an old 2005 super bowl badge that belonged to a Community Service Officer, that is part of my collection. So. I joined the JSO Police Explorers in 2005 as a junior in high school. It was then when I started to be curious about the weapons and firearms that the JSO officers used, and well, all I could find out was that they used a Remington 870, Olympic Arms AR15, and a Glock 22.
Before we go into the weapons selection process that took place, it may help to know a brief history of the city. Before the 60s, Jacksonville Fl, was like many different counties and cities in the state, with multiple Law Enforcement agencies, had elected officials for the county, and different elected officials for the city doing the same job. Well, it came down the pipe line that if the city consolidated they could save money, so they did. The city took the Jacksonville Police Department, and Duval County Sheriffs Office, and combined them into the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office, which is the city police and county sheriffs office, it is weird I know, but one Law Enforcement entity versus two, got the job done better.
Well, recently, I was able to talk to the Sheriff of Jacksonville, John Rutherford, and when I spoke with him, he was more than willing to tell the story of how JSO went from the famed 357 Magnums to a Glock. I was surprised to find out that the Sheriff, the firing range director for JSO, was appointed to find the replacement firearm for the Smith and Wesson 357 magnums that JSO used at the time. The change of service weapon was brought about in the famed Miami FBI shootout. In 1987, JSO received a dozen pistols from all over the world by many manufacturers, and when Rutherford picked up the Glock and said “What the heck is this?’ I’m tapping it on the table. It’s plastic! What the hell? And there’s no hammer on this thing. I literally said, ‘We don’t want any crap like this,’ and I slung it over onto the couch.” Now, if I was used to the All American Smith and Wesson all metal 357s, and was handed a plastic gun, I’m sure I would have done the same thing, and in fact, I did. I loved 1911s with a passion, and used to think a plastic gun was a toy, till I learned about them. Well, what got Rutherford to take a second look at the Glocks? Enter Emanuel Kapelsohn, who was selected by Rutherford as an outside consultant to help sort through all of the firearms options that he had to choose from. And within a couple of weeks, it was said that officers were fighting (so to speak) over who got to get the Glock.
Rutherford told me during out conversation, that they tortured the guns, and I mean tortured them, from burying them in the dirt, soil, and even at the beach, and no matter what they did to the Glock, it was the only one that would fire a full magazine every single time. Rutherford found that the Glock was very impressive, specially with the maintenance, and the lack of out of the box issues that were experienced with the Smith and Wesson revolvers, where 3 or 4 out of 40 would malfunction right out of the box. Rutherford also told me that he loves the Glock because of how simple it is, “you pull it out, shoot it, put it away” and that “the trigger was like a revolver trigger, just lighter, and smoother. The 357s that were issued at the time had about a 12-14 pound trigger, which if an officer trained on a regular basis, could master that trigger and become a great shot. But all Police Officers out there know that many only shoot their guns during annual or bi annual requalification’s. Rutherford said the light and smooth 5.5 pound trigger made the worst shot a good shot, and that was is big, specially in a city with a population, that at one time was over 1 million, more shots on target, and less chances to miss your target because of a really heavy trigger, like the 357’s had. Now, the Standard issued Glock 22 comes with the Glock + connector which is an 8lb trigger weight.
When Rutherford made his presentation to the Sheriff at the time, it was clear, Glock was the choice, and they ordered 900 Generation 2 Glock 17s, many of which had a special roll mark on the right side of the slide, that had the outline of the JSO badge and the letters JSO inside the badge, here is a photo of the roll mark from the Glock 17 I used to own.
Once word got around of JSO making with switch to Glock, hundreds of departments and agencies around the country requested the report from Rutherford, so it is safe to say that many departments and agencies that carry a Glock now, are doing so based upon Rutherford’s work, and dedication to provide the best gun for the officers that he could. I can tell you that Rutherford has not stopped trying to give his officers the best of everything that he can, to better protect them, and to let them have the upper hand to come home at night.