Councilman Brian O'Neill is proposing establishing a fund-raising campaign to help Philadelphia police officers acquire larger sidearms.

This month, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey announced that officers would be able to replace their department-issued 9 mm Glock pistols with larger, more powerful .40- and .45-caliber pistols also made by Glock. The commissioner said the change was necessitated by the fact that criminals were carrying larger firearms: Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski was killed in May by a man armed with an SKS rifle, and Officer Patrick McDonald was killed in September by a felon armed with a .45-caliber pistol.

The commissioner, however, said officers would have to pay the $500 cost of buying the new handguns.

Yesterday, O'Neill released a letter he sent this week to Mayor Nutter that acknowledges the city's current fiscal crisis, and suggests that the mayor and City Council join forces in appealing to the public to raise the $150,000 needed to buy 3,000 handguns. The letter also suggests appealing to "local companies and the philanthropic interests," and said he anticipated a year-long campaign.

- Inquirer staff