As for ammunition, Miami police had tried to fix the identification problem several times in the past decade.
Miami police officers used department-issued Smith & Wesson revolvers until the late 1980s. At that time, the department switched to Glocks - first the 9mm, then the .40-caliber model - because the weapons had greater firepower to match an increasingly well-armed criminal population.
But in the early 1990s, there were several police shootings in which multiple officers were involved. The department suddenly realized it was having problems identifying which bullets were fired by which officers, Rojas said.
The department contacted Glock, which developed what later became known as the ``Miami barrel.'' These barrels marked a ``signature'' groove onto the bullet's casing when it was fired.
But several problems subsequently arose, Rojas said. The Winchester Ranger SXT bullets' copper jacket, the part of the slug that bore the signature mark, often ripped off the bullet's lead core on impact. That made identification impossible.
After years of firing, first on the practice range, then in active duty, the barrel on the Glock .40-caliber often wore down and lost its ability to imprint the bullet with the signature grooves, Rojas said.
``It just wasn't working for us anymore,'' he said.
Representatives of the Glock company could not be reached Tuesday night for comment.
The police department has been huddling with Glock officials since September to come up with a barrel that does not lose its ability to mark a bullet, Rojas said. And the department is also looking at switching to Speer Gold Dot bullets, whose copper jacket is electronically fused to its lead core so it will not rip apart upon impact.
Technicians are still testing the new barrel at the Miami-Dade police lab. In the meantime, the Miami Police Department has already started handing out the new bullets.
Community leaders praised the department's move.
``Coming in conjunction with the agreement to modify the use of deadly force, I think it's a great idea, because it creates accountability,'' said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, president of the Greater Miami Chapter ACLU