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The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, just northeast of Atlanta, is the first line of defense to protect the residents, commuters and businesses in one of the country’s fastest growing areas. Over 400 sworn deputies and civilian workers maintain law and order within their almost 500-square-mile area of responsibility, which is mostly rural in the northern part and very urbanized in the southern district. The deputies face challenges similar to other urban and rural areas of the country, such as drug trafficking—including a rise in meth-related problems—and there are even some gang presence issues.

As a result, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) has a variety of specialty units including K9, mounted and maritime support for the extensive local waterways, such as the massive Atlanta reservoir Lake Lanier, which takes up almost half of Forsyth County. With that varied terrain and landscape, each deputy has to be ready for any environment and threat, both on land and on the water. That is why they depend on their chosen pistol, the GLOCK, to serve and protect the almost 200,000 residents and an almost equal number of daily commuters and tourists who pass through their area of responsibility.

Why GLOCK?

Over two decades ago, FCSO deputies replaced their existing sidearms with GLOCK pistols. Why GLOCK? To cope with the diverse Georgia environment, which ranges from blistering hot and sweaty days to freezing cold and damp nights, as well as the constant application of abrasive solvents used for cleaning and maintenance. GLOCK uses a highly resistant, non-fiberglass, reinforced-polymer frame to reduce the total pistol weight while increasing durability. The GLOCK polymer material is impervious to different climatic conditions, resists corrosion, is tolerant of lubricants, and it even absorbs repeated recoil without wear. The operator-friendly GLOCK also features three independent safety systems that secure the weapon against accidental discharge, which is two or three more than a typical revolver that law enforcement carried for most of the last century.

Each GLOCK has an external trigger safety, a small inner lever contained in the trigger that activates the trigger bar when depressed. The second safety is the firing pin safety, which is a solid hardened steel pin that blocks the firing pin channel unless the trigger is actuated. Lastly, the drop safety is only released when the trigger is pulled back. The effective purpose of this trifecta of gun safety is to make sure the GLOCK does not discharge unless the trigger is purposefully depressed, yet it’ll shoot every time the trigger is pulled. What that means is that the officer, deputy or civilian shooter does not have to lose situational awareness to prepare their defensive pistol for an engagement when faced with an immediate threat. The trigger, firing pin and drop safeties of the SAFE ACTION® allow the GLOCK to be carried fully loaded with complete safety and then fired immediately without having to manipulate any external safeties.

To Protect & Serve

As a result of the recognized superiority of GLOCK pistols, they now rest in the holsters of over two-thirds of all American law enforcement agencies. The FCSO selected the .40-caliber GLOCK 22s and GLOCK 27s for their uniformed and plainclothes deputies, with the excellent GLOCK 35 Practical/Tactical selected for the members of the Forsyth County SWAT team. The commander of the Forsyth County SWAT team, Captain Mark Hoffman, has been in law enforcement for 30 years and SWAT for 26 years. A true operator, Captain Hoffman started his career by passing the tough Miami-Dade SWAT academy and has since trained with the best all over the country. He thoroughly appreciates his GLOCK’s reliability and dependability.

The 24 members of the SWAT team are all qualified in SWAT tactics, including entry duties, with some operators specifically trained in tactical medicine, long-range precision shooting (countersnipers), and both kinetic and explosive breaching. When asked about why his team prefers the GLOCK 35, Captain Hoffman replied, “We like the longer sight radius, and it has a more balanced and more precise feel for long-range shots.”

I asked if the team’s shooting scores have improved, and Hoffman said, “The SWAT guys have always been the highest achievers when they go out and shoot, so we have noticed that the extra length [of the GLOCK 35] seems to help on the longer shots!” In fact, the SWAT team has been using these GLOCKs for many years now, and they are going to be upgrading them soon. “We have been using them since they first came out in 1998 and will be transitioning to the GLOCK 35 Gen4 over the next few years,” Hoffman said.

When asked about how well the GLOCK 35 has been used operationally, Captain Hoffman noted that based on recent shootings “the great thing about the GLOCK is that [when officers were faced with a threat] their training kicked in, and they didn’t have any safeties to take off. Therefore, when they drew their weapon, it was in their hand ready to go.” Captain Hoffman is very specific about why he personally enjoys his GLOCK: “The greatest benefit of the GLOCK is its ruggedness. I’ve had about 90,000 rounds through my GLOCK 35, and it works and looks like it did when it came out of the box 13 years ago. It is a very solid design, and there is no breaking it!”

Proven Excellence

I had the opportunity to spend time not only with the excellent operators of the SWAT team but also with FCSO deputies on the road and detectives serving warrants. The highly professional law enforcement officers I rode with were all enthusiastic GLOCK users who attribute their ability to consistently score well during their biannual pistol qualification to the GLOCKs they all carry. Deputy Mike R. specializes in traffic enforcement on the many roads and highways that funnel tens of thousands of cars in and out of Forsyth County. Deputies Mark S., Mark N. and Nick S. seek out and serve warrants and apprehend parole violators. All are confident when they reach for their GLOCKs that they will perform exactly as expected. First time, every time.

Unfortunately, it is not all theoretical, as a couple of recent events in Forsyth County have had deputies drawing and using their GLOCKs to protect themselves and others. In both cases, the deputies were unexpectedly faced with threats of deadly force and responded by engaging those threats with their GLOCKs pulled directly from their holsters. In both cases, the situation was resolved with no injury to deputies or citizens—only the person threatening the safety of the deputies and others was wounded. Why GLOCK? Simply because it keeps proving itself as the perfect tool to protect law enforcement officers and others from deadly threats. First time, every time.

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