It’s the end of an era, but a necessary one.
The last crop of cops transitioning from the old-school revolver to the modern semi-automatic handguns reported to the NYPD shooting range in the Bronx for training Wednesday.
The remaining 150 police officers — who all joined the force before 1993, when the the .9-mm semi-automatic became the department’s service weapon — had until Aug. 31 to be be trained on new guns.
The swap out is a matter of safety. The revolver holds six bullets, each of which have to be loaded individually.
With the majority of criminals armed with the faster firing semi-automatics, cops holstering a classic six-shooter run the risk of being outgunned.
Such was the case in 1986, when rookie Officer Scott Gadell was shot and killed by a gunman while he reloaded his weapon.
“Every millimeter of a second it detrimental and could be catastrophic,” Inspector Richard DiBlasio, Commanding Officer of the Firearms and Tactics Section said.
The contemporary gun has a 16-bullet capacity and can be reloaded quickly. NYPD officers are trained to shoot a 9-mm. Glock or Sig Sauer.
As 26 police officers went to Rodman’s Neck in the Bronx for their second day of training, they shared bittersweet memories of their classic six shooter – a firearm of cultural lore, the preferred gun of cowboy John Wayne.
Lt. James Darcy, a housing cop who has been on the job since January 1987, said his revolver commanded reverence on the streets. “They give you a lot of respect. They say, ‘Man, you’re old-time, you’ve been out there a long time doing this,'” he said.
“But times change,” he conceded. “I’m very sad. It’s like losing an old friend.”
“One person said to me, ‘Do you gotta put powder in that to make it work?’,” recalled Timothy Broadus, a 28-year veteran officer in Brooklyn’s 84th Precinct.
“That kinda signaled to me that maybe it was time for a change.”