After 40 Years Of Taking Bullets, Time Runs Out For NYPD ‘Thug’


After four decades of being riddled with the bullets of tens of thousands of New York City police officers, the Thug may be facing retirement. “The Thug” is the shorthand name for Advanced Silhouette SP-83A, a target of a gun-wielding man used in police shooting ranges that was created in the early 1960s by a detective with an artistic flair, reports the New York Times. The Thug's undoing was one of the very features that its creators believed made it more effective: its shading. The artists darkened his torso to make it hard for the officers to see where their bullets struck, which was deemed too distracting.

But new targets are being tested with the opposite effect in mind, said Paul J. Browne, a police spokesman. “We're looking to devise a target that's easier to score from a distance,” he said. “The instructor is correcting or judging how you hit the target. If the area where they want you to hit is lighter, it would be easier to see the hits.” The new target, named Mr. Clean in an article on Thursday in Newsday, is both a cultural update and, artistically speaking, a bit of a letdown. Mr. Clean has a shaved head, which is more the fashion than the Thug's wavy locks. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said, “It lacks personality, that's for sure.”


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