Here in Lubbock, we've watched less than lethal weapons save lives time and time again. Back in February, Lubbock police used a shotgun loaded with a beanbag to subdue a suicidal teenager wielding a gun. Then just this Thursday, another beanbag shot, helped stop a man carrying a knife and running from police. At the next city council meeting, Lubbock police will seek to expand their arsenal of another less than lethal weapon: the taser.
The Lubbock County Sheriff's Department is no stranger to less than lethal weapons. NewsChannel 11 went inside the training academy to see the options available, starting with the taser. Deputy Trae Mitchell explains, "These are tasers that use 50,000 watts of electricity. What it does is overtake the brain waves with T waves and the muscles contract so the body won't move."
Here's how it works: two small harpoons are attached to copper wiring and can be shot up to 21 feet at a target. Video of the tasers being used looks graphic, Trae says, "I've been hit with this three times. It hurts. It hurts." but tasers have no adverse side effects.
The Sheriff's Department also uses a non-lethal pepper-ball gun. It may resemble a paintball gun.. but the balls contain chemicals similar to pepper spray and they hurt! Sergeant Greg Parrott says, "We introduce pepper into their breathing and it becomes a psychological disadvantage and it provides disruption to what they were originally planning."
The next weapon is currently just in the pilot stages, but it is being considered. Small rubber rockets (also containing pepper) are placed within what looks like a shotgun shell and can be fired from any shotgun to subdue a criminal. Parrott says, "It's certainly better than the final option which is using deadly force."
Supporters of non-lethal weapons claim that they not only save the lives of officers and citizens, they also save money because officers are less likely to get hurt.