The small and often overlooked U.S. territory of American Samoa is undertaking an effort to arm their police force for the first time in decades. To protect and maintain the peace of this quiet Pacific paradise, the Department of Public Safety has chosen Glock, and is looking for help from their Hawaiian neighbors to the north.
American Samoa, part of the U.S. since 1899, in general has had a pretty peaceful history since the end of World War Two. During the war, the Marine Corps organized every military aged male into a reserve battalion to withstand an expected Japanese invasion. While an errant Japanese submarine did surface and fire a few shells from her deck guns into the island on one occasion, the invasion never came.
Men of the 1st Samoan Battalion, USMCR during WWII. You have to love the M1903 Springfields.
This led to the local battalion being disbanded and even the territorial police hanging up their guns. In fact, by the 1980s, the territorial police, the Department of Public Safety, was unarmed.
However, things have gotten increasingly violent in the island chain known for exporting NFL football players and professional wrestlers. Since 1981, three local law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty. The most recent of these was Detective Lieutenant Liusila Brown, killed by gunfire in 2010.
This led to the department, responsible for the safety of 55,000 inhabitants, to look into taking up arms again. After all, the criminals had plenty of guns, with nearly 80 being picked up during crimes in recent years.
(Samoa's police shown with pre-Glock issued weapons)
"The world we live in is changing - moving forward - and therefore, we need to allow our cops to be armed because they put their lives at risk everyday on the job." Not only that, "the people of the territory also need protection," said American Samoa's Deputy Police Commissioner Leseiau Laumoli according to the Samoa News.
This led the cash-strapped department to purchase 24 Glock 17s for a set price of $10,400. This breaks down to $433 per gun, which is actually a little higher than the 'blue box' pricing, which leads to questions as to through whom the DPS bought their guns.
Although the two dozen Glocks are welcome additions, there are not enough guns to go around for the 148 officers in the department, which plans to hire another twenty cadets in coming weeks.
To help make up the difference, Samoa is negotiating the possible donation of 'a couple hundred' guns from the Honolulu Police Department, who has some surplus guns around after switching to new Glocks.
Until the guns come from Honolulu, if they come, the Samoan police plan to distribute their precious Glocks around the island. As noted by the Samoan News, there will be five guns distributed each to the Leone Substation, Tafuna Substation, East Substation, and Central Station and with every shift, there should be at least one or two officers armed, in case something happens.
Before officers can sign out a Glock for their shift, they will have to undergo a psychological evaluation and training course of fire. Besides their handguns, only carried on duty, they will be issued and trained on less lethal devices including pepper spray, wooden police batons, and tasers.