MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Cumberland County police department is finding a way to use less lethal force in certain situations.
“The chief brought on board another tool for us to use, a less lethal tool,” said Lt. Shaun Felty, with the Hampden Township Police Department.
The tool is a shotgun that fires shell casings with bean bags inside.
“We converted our shots,” Felty said. “They are now orange, so officers under stressful situations don’t get confused with a normal shotgun.”
The bean bags are filled with lots of tiny pellets. The Hampden Township Police Department is using them to give officers another option.
The bean bag gun is less lethal and used in certain situations.
“An individual may be armed with a knife and is not necessarily attacking, but he’s at a distance greater than a taser can be used. There’s a need to take him into custody for his own safety and the safety of others,” Felty said.
Another situation is someone who is suicidal.
The officers are re-trained yearly on firearms, and that now includes bean bag shotguns.
“Regular bullets, they’re designed to penetrate the person to incapacitate them. The bean bag rounds, they’re not designed to penetrate the skin. Basically, it’s blunt-force trauma as if an officer were using a baton, but with a baton, you have to be right next to that person,” Felty said.
The idea is catching on. The Springettsbury Township Police Department is using bean bag bullets, in addition to the SERT team at Pennsylvania State Police.