Delta police are letting the public know about a new tool officers have to safely resolve high-risk situations.
Since January of this year, the Delta Police Department has been training and equipping officers with a 40-mm foam projectile launcher, also called an impact weapon. The launchers will provide officers with an intermediate less-lethal use-of-force option when responding to high-risk calls.
“The key thing about this equipment is that it allows our officers to maintain or create distance, buy time and build options toward a safe resolution when immediate action isn’t required,” DPD Deputy Chief Norm Lipinski said in a press release. “It’s not likely that the public will often see our officers carrying or using these weapons, as they are intended for use in high risk situations. However, we wanted to be open about this change in our equipment as the weapon is very distinctive looking, with a bright green barrel.”
The launcher is replacing what are commonly known as bean bag guns as it offers advantages such as advanced optics and better accuracy. The projectile has a plastic body with a foam or sponge nose and is spin-stabilized, giving it a higher degree of accuracy over distance. The most common injury a person would receive from this weapon is bruising, swelling and physical discomfort.
“The trend in law enforcement across North America is to move to progressive weapon options such as this. In a high-risk situation officers may be able to keep an appropriate distance from a person, which should give more opportunity to safely talk and de-escalate the situation if possible,” Lipinski said.
Lipinski stressed that the addition of the launcher will not alter the department’s emphasis on the importance of communication first, whenever possible in a given situation.
The press release notes DPD officers receive comprehensive de-escalation training and, when possible, will first speak or otherwise communicate with a person and determine how to best keep everyone safe.
Since roll out of the launcher began in January, it has only been used once, though not on a person.
The DPD is moving to equip and train all front-line officers working in sections such as patrol and traffic.