Madison police have quietly begun using a new weapon out on the streets – one they hope will help them deal with violent people – without the use of deadly force.
This comes at a time when the department is being scrutinized for their use of force, and the city has faced record-setting lawsuits and protests focused on police-related shootings.
This new weapon is a modified grenade launcher, outfitted with foam bullets, and they could end up saving lives.
Officer Chris Masterson says that it’s “a tool that would allow us to back way, way up, yet still, if we needed to, deploy force to stop someone from harming themselves or another.”
The weapon does not leave people entirely unharmed, however. It can leave welts, bruises and even broken bones.
Last week, officers fired one of these on a man attempting suicide. He survived the incident and was taken to the hospital.
During an overnight standoff with an armed man in Monona, officers fired one of these weapons, and avoided casualties.
Police say the idea to begin using these weapons came from an officer, who knew that S.W.A.T. teams used them for crowd control.
Officer Masterson believes that they are one of the first departments in the state, if not the nation to use these weapons in this way.
Each district in the city will have two of these weapons available. However, officers will have to retrieve them from a supervisor’s patrol car, which could delay response time.
Although these weapons won’t replace the handguns and Tasers that all officers carry, more routine use could save lives.
Molly Stentz has the story.