The NYPD has set a target date of August 31 to completely remove the six-shot .38-caliber revolver from the hands of its cops. It’s estimated that only 150 police officers on the force still carry the revolver, as, in late 1993, the 9mm semiautomatic was made the preferred handgun of the NYPD.
Some of the anticipated roles of law enforcement officers have changed, with patrol cops now training to manage terror attacks and active shooters.
The revolvers only have a six-shot capacity, which is a far cry from the 16-round capacity of the 9mm. A 9mm can also be reloaded more quickly based on the use of a magazine, which can be ejected and replaced in a matter of seconds. The revolvers are still reloaded one bullet at a time.
Reloading issues were highlighted in 1986, when Officer Scott Gadell, a rookie, and his partner were pursuing a gunman into an alley. The suspect, who was carrying a 9mm, exchanged shots with Gadell, how was carrying a revolver. As Gadell ran out of bullets, the gunman was able to keep firing. The suspect shot Gadell in the head when he was trying to reload.
Now that patrol officers are being trained to deal with active shooters, who may be armed with assault weapons, the 9mm additional capacity and quicker reloading have become a priority.
According to the NY Daily News, when the NYPD transitioned to the 9mm, amid rising concerns that criminals were better armed than the officers, not everyone wanted to make the switch as, in the late 90s, there were concerns about the 9mm jamming. Now, improved technology has made that largely a non-issue.
Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis, a top NYPD spokesperson, stated, “You very rarely hear people talk any more about their gun jamming.”
Any officers still carrying the revolver will need to complete any necessary training on a 9mm Glock or Sig Sauer before being formally transitioned to their new weapon. At that point, they will then have to relinquish their revolver.
August 31 is only considered a target deadline, allowing for an adjustment should any officers require more training on the 9mm beyond that date.