glock 22 Largest Police Departments
Big 10 Protection: Duty Guns of America's Largest Police Departments

In their day, revolvers ruled. Cops nationwide universally carried Smith & Wesson or Colt .38s and .357s on duty. As the war on drugs exploded in the 1980s, the bad guys bought superior firepower and weaponry. LE agencies were outgunned, so they raced to transition to semi-automatics with higher capacities.

Gun-makers responded by producing myriad weapons chambered in multiple calibers, allowing LE agencies options for what their officers would carry. Now LE officers in America are armed with a variety of sidearms, all focused on their crucial mission of protecting and serving citizens.

Let’s look at some of the duty guns officers of the 10 largest police departments in the U.S. carry.

New York City Police Department (NYPD)

The NYPD, the largest police department in America, has more than 40,000 officers—in effect the fourth-largest army in the world—equipped with some of the best 9mm weapons on the market, all using Speer’s 124-grain Gold Dot hollow-point +P load.

NYPD officers buy their own guns, and can choose from three options: The Glock 19, the S&W 5946 and the Sig Sauer P226 DAO. They all have double-action-only (DAO) triggers and inherent safety features. Reportedly some 25,000 officers have chosen the Glock 19. A variant of the 5906 line, the stainless steel, full-sized S&W 5946 features a magazine-disconnect safety, an ambidextrous thumb safety, a one-piece wraparound grip, and either fixed sights or with a rear sight fully adjustable for windage and elevation.

The highly respected handgun of many LE and military organizations, the Sig P226 has a black anodized alloy frame. The weapon incorporates a decocking lever on the left side of the frame above the magazine release button, which allows the hammer to be dropped safely. Movement of the slide during recoil automatically cocks the hammer.

Chicago Police Department (CPD)

More than 13,000 sworn officers strong, the CPD is second largest department in the nation. CPD officers buy their own duty gear, including their uniform and weapon, handcuffs and baton. The annual uniform allowance is $1,800.

New recruits must purchase a Glock 17 or Glock 19, which they may keep or switch after their probation. Officers hired before 1996 may keep old DA/SA or single-action-only pistols, as well as their S&W or Ruger revolvers in .38 Special.

After probation, the officer may purchase any striker-fired, DAO handgun from Beretta, Glock, Ruger, Sig Sauer, S&W or Springfield Armory that is chambered in either 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP.

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)

Always near the “tip of the spear” on the West Coast, the LAPD has more than 9,000 sworn officers. Until 2002, the standard LAPD pistol was the Beretta 92F. When William Bratton was appointed chief, he allowed officers to also carry the Glock. New officers are issued the Glock 22 in .40 S&W.

With the exception of SWAT officers, after the academy, LAPD officers reportedly can choose from several sidearms: The Beretta 92F, 92FS or 8045; the S&W 459, 5904, 5903, 659, 5906, 645, 4506, 4566, 4567, 5903 TSW, 5906 TSW, 4569 TSW and 4566 TSW; and the Glock 17, G19, G22, G23, G34 and G35. For LAPD SWAT, Kimber designed and designated the Custom TLE II, a 5-inch-barreled 1911 in .45 ACP.

Philadelphia Police Department (PPD)

As the largest city in Pennsylvania, the PPD’s 7,000 sworn officers patrol some of the toughest streets in America. The cops are allowed to carry one of two weapons, the 9mm Glock 19 or the .40-caliber Glock 23. The Glock 23 is the same size as the G19 but slightly heavier and has a modified slide, frame and .40 barrel. The standard magazine capacity of the G23 is 13 rounds.

Houston Police Department (HPD)

The HPD has 5,400 police officers to cover a city whose crime rates rose significantly after Hurricane Katrina. The HPD is the largest police department in Texas and allows its officers to carry one of an array of .40 weapons. Officers are required to purchase theirweapon and can carry the S&W M&P40; the Glock 22, G22C, G23 or G23C; the Springfield Armory XD-40; or the Sig Sauer P226 or P229, in either DA/SA or DAK versions.

Detroit Police Department (DPD)

The 4,000 sworn officers of the DPD recently transitioned to a new sidearm, the Smith & Wesson M&P40. Detroit Chief of Police James R. Barren said, “The pistols allow each officer to customize the fit and feel of the sidearm, and that translates into a safer and more efficient environment on the job. We were also impressed with the level of customer service that Smith & Wesson can deliver.”

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)

The Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department covers the nation’s capital with a force over 3,000 strong, handling all of the non-federal areas in the district, and it’s in the unique position of having a myriad of federal agencies that also patrol different areas of Washington. Since 1989, MPD officers have been issued either 9mm Glock 17s or G19s. The MPD’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) uses Sig Sauer P226 9mm pistols.

Nassau County Police Department (NCPD)

Nassau County, New York, is bordered by Queens on the west and Suffolk County to the east. Nassau County is what most New Yorker’s generically consider “Long Island.” Due to its location, it routinely overlaps and works with the NYPD and deals with many of the issues that spill over from the city. Several township police departments dot the county, but the NCPD retains jurisdiction over the entire county with its 3,000-plus officers, who are issued Sig Sauer P226s in 9mm.

Baltimore Police Department (BPD)

As Maryland’s largest city, the BPD’s 3,000-plus officers patrol some tough streets. The officer’s primary weapon is the .40-caliber Glock 22 pistol, allowing them an adequate punch.

Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD)

Florida’s southern tip is home to the largest police department in the southeastern United States. The 3,000-plus officers of the MDPD, formerly known as the Metro-Dade PD, recently switched to 9mm Glock pistols.

Reportedly, the MDPD also allows its officers the option of carrying these approved weapons: the HK USP9; the S&W 5943 TSW and 5906; the Ruger P94 and P95 DAO; the Sig Sauer P226 DAO and P239 DAO; and the Beretta 92D. The MDPD’s Incident Containment Team (ICT) carries the .40-caliber HK USP.

Editor’s Note: Please bear in mind that the uniformed personnel numbers for each of the departments listed are rough estimates, and agencies update their arsenals regularly.

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