You know you must be doing something right when the bad guys go out of their way to avoid your jurisdiction. The Chesterfield County Police Department, just outside of Richmond, Va., has developed a reputation for cracking down on crime. The combination of strict enforcement, top-notch training, improved gear and equipment, and tough judges that hand down equally tough sentences has earned the county the nickname of “Arresterfield” among the area’s criminals. In fact, the old jailhouse still retains the wooden stockade on its front porch and is conveniently located within sight of the new jail.

Chesterfield’s 500-plus officers patrol over 400 square miles and are responsible for the safety of more than 300,000 residents, and while most of the residents can be found concentrated in suburban neighborhoods, the majority of the county remains rural.

This is a small force for the fourth largest municipality in Virginia. They respond to over 200,000 calls for service and/or assistance each year. Statistically, a population this size would call for a force about 50 percent larger, but, with the help of several dozen volunteer officers backing up single-officer units on patrol, the county has been recognized as one of the safest and most secure communities of its size in the United States.

New Guns

In 2007, the county sought a new service pistol and formed a committee to evaluate and test their choices. The key in the selection process was choosing the gun that would best fit the needs of the department and its officers, with special consideration paid to reputation, reliability, ease of training and maintenance.

Of the initial eight pistols considered, the CCPD narrowed their choices down to two, which were then test-fired by training officers extensively until the GLOCK 22 in .40 came out on top as the best choice. According to Training Officer/Range Master Carlos Gibson, the GLOCK’s consistent trigger pull greatly aided in training officers, as did its simple disassembly process.

The department-wide transition consisted of an eight-hour training day with only three hours spent in the classroom and five hours on the range. To help in the transition, the holster design was kept the same. GLOCK also provided the CCPD with armorer training to ensure the pistols ran reliably and would be easy to maintain.
I asked new recruits, more than half of whom arrived at the 31-week academy with no previous firearms experience, about their GLOCK pistols, and the response was uniformly good. It also helps that the CCPD has a very new training facility.

Better Training

The Eanes-Pittman Public Safety Training Center is jointly managed to serve the needs of the police and sheriff’s departments as well as the county fire- rescue brigade. In addition to multiple classrooms, the facility boasts role-playing rooms, firearms simulation training areas, a forensic training lab, vehicle bay and a driving simulator.

The new, 25-yard small-arms firing range is divided into two bays for up to 20 officers each. The bays, which have moving, pneumatic-actuated targets, can be used simultaneously for separate training scenarios and range qualifications.

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