A Month With NYPD’s Firearms Investigation Unit

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The New York Police Department’s Firearms Investigation Unit is the only group whose sole focus is taking guns directly off the streets. The New York Times spent a month with the unit of 53 detectives and 13 supervisors. A reporter describes the experience of hours in “in dark S.U.V.’s and cinder block squad rooms [watching] men and women who pose as criminals and deal with criminals, who have no playbook but their own instincts and experience, and who keep what they do a secret, sometimes even from their families.”

The story describes the “indelible night when they lost two men – how the monthly number of gun buys plummeted nearly to zero, how the unit’s members wept in group counseling sessions and second-guessed the methods that led up to the killings, and how they have developed new safety measures in hopes that such a thing never happens again.”

In the unit’s Staten Island office, the dead officers remain on the the attendance roll. Their former colleagues still are at work buying guns. This week was a good one: six semiautomatic pistols, four revolvers, one assault weapon and a sawed-off shotgun. “What’s so hard is, we know we’ve got a gun out there,” says the squad’s captain. “This is a moral issue.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/05/nyregion/05GUNS.html

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