LAWRENCE, Kan. — Police are getting traditional shotguns out of their patrol cars in favor of less lethal firearms that shoot beanbags.
Officers are completing their training on the new firearm this week.
The police chief says officers already have safer options to get people to comply with their commands.
Batons, pepper spray and tasers have been part of a police officer’s less lethal tool bag for some time.
Lawrence police believe eliminating traditional shotguns reduces the chances that an incident will have a deadly result.
Traditional shotguns have become less useful in recent years as more police agencies have adopted semiautomatic rifle programs to counter the increased firepower often carried by active shooters.
“All of our sworn officers have the ability to carry a patrol rifle,” Sgt. Justin Rhoads, Lawrence Police Department, said. “Not all of them do. That’s a decision that they make. We still have the patrol rifle option. It’s not taking anything away as far as, ‘Oh they’re taking long guns away from law enforcement.’ That is not it.”
Police say less lethal shotguns fire a drag stabilized bean bag from as far away as 75 feet, which can give officers time and distance to make better tactical decisions.
Batons, pepper spray, or tasers require much closer encounters with potentially dangerous individuals.
Less lethal shotguns are easily identified by their orange stock and pump.
Lawrence police say the bean bag gun can be used when someone is armed with a weapon and has threatened to harm themselves or others, in riot situations where projectiles are being thrown at officers or when there’s probable cause to believe someone has committed a violent crime and is refusing to comply with lawful orders.