THE Delta Police Department (DPD) on Thursday advised the public about their deployment of new foam impact weapons.
Police say that in any high risk situation, police officers balance the desire for a peaceful resolution with the need to protect the public, the subject, and first responders. When possible, police will first try to de-escalate the situation by speaking or otherwise communicating with the subject person, determining how to best keep everyone safe.
While Delta Police officers receive very comprehensive training in de-escalation, police must also be prepared to use force if the situation requires. Frontline DPD officers are in the process of being trained and equipped with a new intermediate use-of-force option, a 40 mm foam projectile launcher, or impact weapon.
“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,” said Deputy Chief Norm Lipinski. “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 considered a less-lethal intermediate weapon, replacing what are commonly known as bean bag guns.
The 40 mm launcher offers many advantages over bean bag guns. It has advanced optics and the foam projectile is spin stabilized in mid-air, for higher accuracy. In contrast the bean bag gun is not as accurate over distance. The projectile has a plastic body with a foam or sponge nose and delivers impact by way of kinetic energy.
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,” said Lipinski.
He stressed that the addition of this weapon will not alter the emphasis on the importance of communications first, whenever possible in a given situation. The DPD is moving to equip and train all frontline officers working in sections such as patrol and traffic.
Roll out of the impact weapon started in January 2019. Since then it has been used once, but not on a person.