Santa Cruz Cops Trial .9mm Smart Gun


“One procedure that failed in Ferguson was Officer Wilson’s attempt to call for backup. His radio was switched to the wrong channel,” reveals. “But a remarkable technology in California sets help in motion the moment a gun is drawn. Deputy James Wright is a top marksman for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department. He is also one of a dozen deputies now carrying a .9mm pistol, specially equipped with a small tracking module designed to alert headquarters whenever he unholsters or fires the weapon.” Ah yes the smart gun, coming soon to a New Jersey near you. And then nothing else, dumb gun-wise. Meanwhile, in the Golden State things are turning yellow and red . . .

Santa Cruz is one of two departments in the United States now testing the technology. The system is simple. Using the chip in the gun and the officer’s smart phone, it sends a “yellow” alert when an officer draws his gun. And a “red” alert when the weapon is fired . . .

Santa Cruz Sheriff Phil Wowak says the system may save lives. And it will provide a clear record of what happened in any officer-involved shooting.

“This product will give us the ability to know the exact time the officer drew his weapon, the time between the drawing of the weapon and the firing of the weapon, and then the exact time between each individual shot,” said Wowak.

He says this is not about tracking the actions of his officers, or keeping a database on how often one pulls a weapon.

“It really is about knowing when a person is engaged in a hostile confrontation and getting them the assistance they need to make that situation safe.”

Wowak said the gun tracking information will be used to adjust and improve deputies’ training. The police union seems to be on board and the early field results show the system works.

I’m so reassured that police accountability has nothing to do with this. Just as I’m hopeful that the police union won’t stand in the way of the public release of ballistic information after an officer-involved shooting. While we await the results of the trial I sure hope Santa Cruz cops don’t misplace their .9mm smart guns. So easy to do . . . [h/t Pascal]



  1. avatar Ralph says:

    I don’t know if the smart technology will save lives, but if all departments nationwide adopt the .9mm, nobody will ever again be killed by police, whether the shooting is justified or not.

    This new .9mm round would be perfect for the SIG Mosquito.

    1. avatar peirsonb says:

      And dogs around the country sleep a little more soundly tonight.

    2. avatar Geoff PR says:


      Not so sure about that. Muscle mass, etc. Doubt it.

      *Careful* shot placement in the brain stem would probably do it…

    3. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      Do you think the Sig Mosquito could cycle the .9mm reliably? If it does I’d take it over the .22lr Mosquito in a heartbeat.

      1. avatar PeterW says:

        The SiG .P226 is first in the running for new dept. issue I heard
        Also easier to find except when you lose your keys…

      2. avatar Chuck1962 says:

        My Mosquito is a great gun. Cycles most ammo very well except for low velocity stuff. You know you can change the guide rod spring for different ammo types right? In Canada we have no problem finding lots and lots of 22 ammo so I guess you may be limited to what you can get in the states. High velocity is the ammo most liked by mine but it will cycle regular stuff just fine. Actually one of my favorite handguns.

        1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

          When we got my wife her Mosquito I started reading the manual where it says to use Mini-Mags thinking they’re just saying that because Sig and CCI are probably owned by the same company or something. Of course they meant every word of it because Mini-Mags are the only ammo that Mosquito will fire virtually 100%. Went through a couple hundred rounds of Remington Vipers with only one or two malfunctions. The Goldens are about the closest thing to a cheap round that will cycle most of the time. WWB (high velocity) won’t go more than 3 rounds tops without a malfunction. Of course the first time out we had a big box of WWB. Definitely the most finicky firearm I’ve ever encountered. I think we tried both recoil springs right away, but maybe I could try that again. I’m not even sure which one is in it now. Maybe with HV ammo and the weak spring it would do better.

  2. avatar BLAMMO says:

    If “smart guns”, of any type or technology, are ever put into practice, there will be far more incidents where something goes wrong than incidents where the technology worked as intended. It won’t even be close.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      Which is, of course, exactly the intention. Or so it seems…

  3. avatar Josh says:

    Shouldn’t these supposedly educated journalists have at least a vague idea of how tiny .9 of a millimeter is? I know we don’t use the metric system outside of certain fields but I still learned the basics of it somewhere around the 3rd grade. It’s not that hard.

    1. avatar James says:

      You can be forgiven for erroneously thinking that modern main stream journalists actually know anything? They never let down their act that they actually do research and investigative work for their reproduction of another’s press release or story as they’d call it. This generation of reporters is the most intellectually lazy, dishonest, and unethical in our long history. If they don’t regurgitate a press release, they do the Ferguson thing and try to push a false narrative. As disgusting as most politicians are, most reporters are far more despicable.

      1. avatar IdahoPete says:

        Case in point: “Rolling Stone” magazine’s story on the “fraternity rape culture” at the Virginia university – not fact checked at all because it advanced the leftist narrative. Turns out it is a nearly- total fabrication, by a “reputable journalist”.

    2. avatar juliesa says:

      That’s what I was thinking. I’m a toothless racist Texas gun nut, but I know the metric system pretty well. Not only that, but I prefer it.

    3. avatar Phoenix says:

      Don’t laugh. There are major firearms manufacturers who still accidentally put .9mm markings on boxes. I’ve photo proof.

    4. avatar IdahoPete says:

      “…supposedly educated journalists…” That’s what we call an erroneous premise. “Educated” and “journalist” are mutually contradictory terms.

      The correct terminology is “thoroughly indoctrinated lackeys of the Democrat Propaganda Ministry”.

  4. avatar koolaidguzzler says:

    This is just the beginning of something that will eventually become standard. Just because it’s not perfect today, doesn’t mean it won’t be serviceable ten years from now.

    1. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

      As long as it’s only mandatory for cops. It might be handy for a concealed carrier depending on the prosecutor.

      I’d want it in a standard calibre pistol though.

  5. avatar mike oregon says:

    Sigh, I hope that someday people will stop trying to solve all of life’s problems with laws and technology, then use logic and reason. Also facts in context, that would be great.

    1. avatar James says:

      We can dream, but our current culture mostly turns out emotional infants with inflated self esteems who can only think (I say think colloquially) as far as what makes them feel good. This system, body cameras, it may not hurt, but it won’t solve the issues because everyone will then interpret every little nuance of a police encounter to fit their own agenda. To believe so is plain gullibility (see Eric Garner). Accountability goes only as far as the integrity and ethics of those human beings in the positions of power.

  6. avatar Gunr says:

    So how do you fire this thing? Do you hold it with your two fingers and pull the trigger with a tooth pick?
    Rather than using the Sig mosquito, you could make one of these to shoot mosquito’s! Maybe one #12 shot pellet??
    If that’s too much for a mosquito, you could down size it to, say, ..9MM

    1. avatar Dan A says:

      That’s not really how decimals work :p

      1. avatar Bob says:

        Which, I think, was part of his point. Subtle humor…

    2. avatar JJ48 says:

      Wait, CAPITAL “MM”? So it’s ..9 Mega Miles? ..9Man-Months? What?

      1. avatar Timmy! says:

        Isn’t “MM” the abbreviation for billion? Then it would be 900,000!

  7. avatar FedUp says:

    Back in the 1960s (before GCA 1968) you could buy a .12 cal revolver through the mail for less than $10 (I think it might have been $6.95).

    0.9mm would make that .12 caliber look huge in comparison.

    1. avatar Julian says:

      .9mm is .03 inches, so that .12 is still huge in comparison.

  8. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I use a 1mm reamer at work.
    I think that pistol is too big for a .9mm

  9. avatar Phil COV says:

    Get that finger off the trigger!

  10. avatar Dev says:

    So, um, what happens when the officer has no cell phone reception? Or, “OOPS! I forgot my charger!”??

  11. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    Still, it’s twice as big as a .45mm.

  12. Cool. Just put it between your cheek and gum. With a little practice… what? I learned to shuck a handful of sunflower seeds!

  13. avatar Brian says:

    There are a host of issues with this, but one is that this “gun drawn/gun fired” signal would not have done anything to get Officer Wilson backup soon enough to make a difference in that situation.

  14. avatar Grindstone says:

    Good, then they DEFINITELY know the officer drew and fired his gun, because there was so much doubt before…

  15. avatar Hannibal says:

    Don’t forget, the .9mm uses clips.

  16. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    I got a revolver keychain that has a hammer and a trigger on it. And a barrel hole…

  17. avatar Illinois Minion says:

    Picture angle is perfect. For a split moment I thought it was being held by Mayor “9.5 fingers” Emanuel.

    1. avatar cmeat says:

      tiny dancer’s hands would make that .9 look huge.

  18. avatar Shire-man says:

    In this case the smart phone is the weak link. An app connected to an always on network is just asking to be abused and attacked. And if past government IT implementation is any standard to go by it will be broken and/or hacked weeks before release. If it isnt it’s only because the target wasn’t deemed entertaining or profitable enough.

  19. avatar Alan Longnecker says:

    I await the first officer involved shooting during range qualifying day.

  20. avatar SteveInCO says:

    I look forward to seeing a .12 gauge.

    (Which would be an 8 1/3 lb cannon.)

  21. avatar Ted says:

    I wonder if its this thing:

    Tracking device that goes in the “glock hole”.

  22. avatar Ducky says:

    I love my Makarov, and according to this picture they make it in .9mm. I need one now, though I’m not sure how I’ll get my meathooks inside that trigger guard.

  23. avatar Another Robert says:

    Wow, didn’t know the famous .9mm was a Makarov. .9x.18 I guess….

  24. avatar Cyrano says:

    Anyone think this tech will lead to more false alarms. A detective may not have the tech belt because he uses a semi concealed leather holster thus reliance on his time of draw is unknowable. Also what if the officer takes the gun out for cleaning or had to remove it to enter some restricted area like a federal building. Do these bureaucrats even spit ball what could go wrong before inventing a new thing to go wrong?

  25. avatar justin says:

    based on the pic, they are doing 1 better than going to .9mm
    they’re going to .9x .18mm!

  26. avatar IdahoPete says:

    “It really is about knowing when a person is engaged in a hostile confrontation and getting them the assistance they need to make that situation safe.”

    And the “person engaged in a hostile confrontation” will then have a better appreciation of the thrills of “waiting for the police to arrive”. And hoping that the electronic doo-dad in his gun is actually working.

  27. avatar Kyle says:

    For law enforcement, I could perhaps see having a “smart holster” where it sends out a signal to fellow police if a police officer has unholstered their gun. This type of technology could possibly help police and would not require any real “smart gun” technology that could foul-up. If it did foul-up, then it’s just a screwy holster, and the gun is still the same. But as for so-called “smart” gun technology, forget it. I don’t care if it comes into wide use by police or not, I do not want it.

  28. avatar Spaceman Brown says:

    There’s a better way to do it. Instead of a “chip in the gun”, which will require actually going through the hassle and expense of installing chips in their guns (or worst case, buying new guns), use magnetic tape switches. I’m imagining 2 thin strips of tape, one for the slide of frame of the gun, one for the inside of the holster, that when touching, send a “holstered” signal through a small wire to a control module on the users belt. Make it small enough, and it would fit on any weapon. Nobody would need a new gun or holster, worst case scenario you night need to drill a little hole on the inner side of your Safariland or Serpa to run the wire. When the user draws the weapon, the control module would send a “get backup” signal, and also place a “gun drawn” watermark on the footage from the user’s body cameras (at least 2, in case one gets obstructed by an arm or something). It also keeps a record of how often the user draws their weapon, which will be posted on the PD website.

    This is another case of cool, but not-quite-there-yet technology being implemented for the wrong reasons.

  29. avatar tk says:

    We talked about this tech before. No. Still.

    Most people have no idea how often an officer clears leather. Every day. Imagine having an “all hands on deck” alert, every time you do a press check.

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