Wichita police deploy “less lethal” weapons

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita Police Department has acquired and deployed the use of “less lethal” weapons which will cut back on use of force.

The weapons include a 40mm launcher gun that shoots foam-tipped rounds and a bean bag launcher. These weapons can be used to hinder, not hurt, a suspect if need be.

“We don’t want to take lives if we don’t have to, obviously saving lives and recognizing the sanctity of life is our priority,” Chief Gordon Ramsay said.

The weapons were used last Tuesday when a suicidal male was holding a knife to his neck. Officers quickly became concerned for the man’s safety. By using the less lethal line, they were able to safely take the man into proper custody to get the help needed.

“With every situation being different, having a choice of weapon is important,” Lt. Chris Halloran, range master for the WPD and Sedgwick County Sheriff’s office firing range.

Though tasers, pepper spray and the baton all qualify as less lethal weapons, the launch guns can help to handle a situation from a safe deistance. The 40mm launcher that shoots foam-tipped rounds can be fired from 5 feet to 60 feet away. The bean bag launchers work best from 20 feet away. Officers aim for the abdomen, buttocks, arms and legs to hinder the subject without seriously hurting them. Striking subjects in the chest or head with the less lethal weaponry could cause death.

In addition to the less lethal weapons, Ramsay said the department has tripled its negotiators for high-stress situations. The number of negotiators went from three to nine, as each undergoes special training to talk down subjects and deescalate a situation.

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