SEPTA transit police still awaiting new service weapons

A transit police officer keeps watch on the Market-Frankford line. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A transit police officer keeps watch on the Market-Frankford line. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

SEPTA’s police force is still carrying the Sig Sauer P320 handgun, after a transit police officer’s P320 service weapon fired while holstered at Suburban Station during rush hour in late August.

The transit authority made an emergency purchase of 350 new Glock 17s, holsters, and 9mm rounds to replace the Sig the following week and expected to have the guns in hand by now, said SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch. But the delivery of the ammunition is holding things up since the authority is moving from .40 caliber bullets to 9mm.

“It’s just the volume that we’re dealing with on this one that set things back a little bit,” Busch said.

The spokesperson said the order to cover 51 9mm rounds for each of the force’s approximately 260 officers, and the hundreds more practice rounds, are en route.

The transit authority still hopes to complete the switch soon, but Busch could not provide a specific date.

“We don’t see it as a situation where there’s a safety concern that would impact riders,” he said. “We would hope that they would be reassured by the fact that we took such quick action.”

Troy Parham, SEPTA Transit Police union vice president, said officers are growing more concerned about carrying the weapon. He said he believes SEPTA is doing its best, but the process “needs to move quicker somehow.”

“I think it’s an issue for the public and our officers,” said Parham. “We’re all equally concerned.”

While SEPTA is making the transition to Glock, the P320 is at the center of another lawsuit over unintentional discharge.

Thomas Frankenberry, a former New York Police Department officer, claims his P320 discharged “without the trigger or gun being touched” while in his waistband in a Chic-Fil-A bathroom in South Carolina in 2016.

The 9mm bullet “entered through Thomas’ hip area, tunneled through his upper thigh, narrowly missed his femoral artery, and lodged into his knee cap,” leading to a “substantial amount of emergency surgeries, frequent hospital visits, medical procedures, and physical therapy sessions over the course of many months, and multiple years.”

Frankenberry’s lawsuit seeks $10 million in compensation.

A potential $5 billion class action lawsuit claims there are approximately 500,000 defective P320s in circulation.

Sig did not return requests for comment.

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