A gun grab attack on an NYPD officer earlier this week in which a suspect reportedly shot and killed a bystander has many in New York City asking how easy is it for a suspect to get their hands on an officer's weapon?
The NYPD says it's not that easy, and it will be even harder in the future, as the department is in the process of transitioning to a new, more secure type of holster.
NYPD officials say the department's new Safariland 6360 ALS gun holster with an automatic locking system is more secure than its previous holster. The department started issuing it to all new recruits in June of 2014. The Safariland 6360 ALS was not in use by the officer who was attacked Tuesday and lost his gun to a suspect who killed an uninvolved bystander.
"Obviously we are going to review all the tactics involved. But looking at the video, (the suspect) made a very fast move and basically ripped the gun from the officer's holster," NYPD Asst. Chief Larry Nikunen told ABC7.
Ripping a gun from a police officer's holster is not an easy thing to do, according to both investigators and Joe Giacalone, a former NYPD sergeant and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "The NYPD snap holster is secure. It actually has two safety mechanisms in order for the gun to come out. So the thumb snap is one of them and the other mechanism allows the officer to get the gun out. You can't pull it out from behind, you can't pull it out straight up," Giacalone said.
"This is every cop's worst nightmare, someone getting ahold of your gun," Giacalone added. "The investigation is going to determine if this thing was either by accident or that the holster is defective."
The NYPD has issued 8,000 new SafariLand 6360 ALS gun holsters so far. But the department says any officer can be trained on it and issued one by request.