NYPD may look at "smart guns" — A dumb idea?

Editor’s Note:

Editor’s Note: Sometime between about 1100 Pacific and the 1800 Pacific the New York Post has apparently taken down its original article and posted another one that says, in part: “The NYPD really jumped the gun today in announcing the potential for ‘smart’ guns that could prevent friendly-fire shootings...The problem is that research is not being conducted — and the lab had planned to break the bad news to the NYPD at a meeting next week.”  We will continue to investigate and provide updates as they become available.

The New York Post today reported that NYPD may explore the use of so-called “smart guns” in an effort to avert tragedies like the friendly-fire death of Officer Omar Edwards.

What the Post failed to mention — why would it? — is the obvious officer safety issue associated with a police weapon that makes any sound other than “bang!” A side arm that beeps can act as a beacon for the bad guys.  In addition to that is the matter that all technology, no matter how advanced, can be “spoofed.”

It remains to be seen whether this intiative will go anywhere, and PoliceOne will continue to follow developments on this, but in the meantime we urge our members to join the conversation by adding your comments below. 

Edwards, who was remembered in a ceremony yesterday that was attended by thousands of New York’s finest, was mistakenly killed by a fellow officer on May 28, 2009. Officer Edwards, wearing his street clothes, had been chasing a man who had broken into his car. Nearby officers responded and ordered the pair to stop. When Edwards turned toward them with his weapon drawn, one of the officers shot him.

The Post article, which you can read in full here, said that NYPD-issued side arms would be outfitted with a computer chip — presently under development at the Pacific Northwestern Laboratory — that would emit an visual and audible signal when drawn from the holster, enabling anyone nearby to know that the other person was holding a department-issued weapon.

The Post said in its reporting that NYPD would be the first police force in the nation to use this type of technology if the plan is implemented.

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, providing police training content on a wide range of topics and trends affecting the law enforcement community. Doug is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column, and has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips. Doug hosts the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, and is the host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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