The NYPD is retiring a piece of history dating to the late 1800s – six-shot revolvers that a few older cops still carry. NY1’s Myles Miller filled the following report:
The .38 caliber revolver is a throwback to another era. But for the NYPD officers still carrying them, the six-shooter is a trusted companion -- an accurate shot that won't jam when it's needed most.
“Whenever they see the gun, they realize that I got a lot of time on patrol and that I've done a lot of things and they give me great respect because of it,” SAYS Lt. James Darcy, of the NYPD’s Housing Bureau.
The sidearm dates to the late 1800s, when Teddy Roosevelt oversaw the city’s police force, and ordered a .32 caliber Colt to be the department's standard gun.
Officer Steven Cohn, of the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau, still carries the .38.
“I had it from 1992. I was stationed in the 41st Precinct in the Bronx. It was a very busy precinct at the time. I never had to use it, thank God, but I had to take it out.”
In 1993, after a fierce debate, the NYPD switched from six-shot revolvers to make a 9 millimeter semi-automatic its standard gun. The semi-automatic can fire many more bullets is easier to reload.
Officers packing the old revolvers were allowed to continue to carry them.
But after decades of retirements, just 29 cops still do. And now, Police Commissioner James ONeill has ordered them to hang up the old six-shooters by Aug. 31.
The 29 officers are spending three days at Rodman's Neck, the police firing range in the Bronx, learning how to use their new weapons.
Police brass say their retiring the revolver for good because in an era of terrorist attacks and active-shooter situations, a six-shot handgun simply leaves cops outgunned.
“A 9 millimeter has a capacity to access of 15 rounds in the magazine. A revolver has six. If you get into a situation where you're exchanging gunfire, you exchange six rounds you now have to reload and it takes that time,” says Inspector Richard DiBlasio, the commanding officer of the NYPD’s Firearms and Tactics Section.
It’s a lesson learned after rookie cop Scott Gadell was killed in 1986. His revolver ran out of bullets, and he was shot in the head trying to reload.
With crime now at record lows, the city is far different today. NYPD cops fired their guns just 23 times last year, down from 147 times in 1996.
So although all cops are now being required to carry semi-automatics, it's becoming less and less likely they will every have to use them.