City Council will soon weigh whether to upgrade the San Antonio Police Department’s handguns, from .40 caliber to 9 mm.

Police Chief William McManus told members of the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday that San Antonio is the only major Texas city still using the .40 caliber, and officers need the new firearms to be safe. SAPD’s current guns were purchased in 2013 and have a life expectancy of 10 years.

“You can’t send police officers out on the street with weapons that are not reliable,” McManus said.

The proposal drew little discussion from the committee, which is chaired by Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda (D6). It will go to the full council for a decision in October.

The city is proposing replacing the guns with Smith & Wesson 9 mm Luger M&P9 handguns that would cost roughly $2.19 million. Their estimates include 2,800 guns for SAPD, 203 for the Parks Police Department, 60 for the Airport Police Department and 31 for Arson Bureau and Rescue Task Force.

Under the city’s proposal, officers would be allowed to purchase their old guns for personal use. The proceeds would be used to help offset the cost of the new ones.

“You carry a tool of your trade for 10 years, and it becomes [of] sentimental value to you,” said McManus. “Most officers want to keep them.”

Unlike past upgrades, where remaining old guns were sold through a third party vendor, any remaining guns replaced from this upgrade would be destroyed by the city, according to Tuesday’s presentation.

Councilman Clayton Perry (D10) asked why the city wasn’t continuing the practice of selling the old guns, and requested that city staff provide an estimate of how much money it was forgoing by destroying them. Deputy City Manager Maria Villagomez said the change in policy had been made at the request of City Manager Erik Walsh.

Speaking on a panel at the Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday, McManus said the community was experiencing an “epidemic” of gun violence unlike any he’d seen in his career in law enforcement.

Asked why San Antonio is on pace to record its highest murder rate since the 1990s, McManus said he couldn’t point to one single reason, but noted that the increase in guns carried by people who don’t have proper training is leading to unsafe communities all over the country.

“People are real quick to reach for a weapon when they don’t agree with someone,” McManus said.

In an interview Tuesday, McManus said he was comfortable selling the old guns to officers because they are licensed and trained to use them properly. While there’s no guarantee the officers won’t turn around and resell the guns, McManus said “most of the officers that I know collect them and keep them.”

The city is also exploring upgrading the system of video cameras used on officers’ bodies and vehicles.

While it hasn’t chosen a vendor for the new video equipment, SAPD is requesting a program that uses cloud-based storage to link footage from various sources for more efficient reporting.

The current system requires officers to upload videos from a police substation, and hard drives can fill up while they’re on duty.

Andrea Drusch writes about local government for the San Antonio Report. She's covered politics in Washington, D.C., and Texas for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, National Journal and Politico.