The Wichita Police Department is training officers on the use of less-lethal weapons in certain situations.
The ALSTAC-40 weapon system recently purchased by the department shoots a foam or sponge-like round, rather than a bullet. The WPD currently has four of the 40-millimeter launchers, with four additional units on backorder.
Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said during a briefing Wednesday that the foam rounds have been in the testing stage at the department for about a year. He said 60 supervisors within the WPD are trained to use the weapons.
"It’s not an alternative to volatile, fast-moving situations, but it is another option for our staff to use," Ramsay explained. "We’ve been focusing a lot on creating time and distance and using time and distance to our advantage in situations when feasible."
Last summer, officers began training using bean bag shotguns as well.
"Our officers have a very tough job and there are situations where deadly force is going to happen," Ramsay said. "But we want to make sure we’re training them and giving them tools to use for situations where these can be used."
Ramsay says the system was used successfully last week to help take a suicidal man into custody after talking to him failed. According to police, the responding officers had been trained in the use of the less-lethal weapon system just two hours prior to receiving the call.
"It obviously could have been much different if we didn’t have that tool," Ramsay said.
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