In response to last year’s riots over the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer, local cops in Ferguson, Mo., will soon be using a less lethal device named “The Alternative” to defend themselves.
But some critics argue the department is experimenting at the risk of officer’s lives.
Rattled by last year’s extensive “Black Lives Matter” protests, Assistant Ferguson Police Chief, Al Eickhoff was on the lookout for new, less deadly forms of officer protection when he found Alternative Ballistics, according to the Washington Post.
The Alternative is a bright orange contraption that’s placed onto the barrel of a handgun. When the gun is fired, the bullet is encased within the shell device that flies through the air with enough force to lay someone out, but not kill them, the product makers said.
In order to use it, the officer must take time to affix the Alternative to his weapon, at a moment when mere seconds matter.
And that “exposes police officers to greater risk” said Steve Ijames, a former Springfield Mo., police major and training expert.
“I am all about less lethal,” Ijames said. “What bothers me is we will allow an officer to face immediate deadly jeopardy with a less-lethal round. Deadly force is the most likely thing to repel deadly force.”
One critic even called the device a “Bozo Bullet,” because it looks like a clown’s nose attached to the end of the officer’s weapon, according to the Post.
The Alternative has been effective from 5 to 30 feet and testing on simulated human bodies showed it would likely disable someone without fatally injuring him, according to the Post.
But it has never been used on a real human, and critics like Ijames worry how the device will effectively be put in place during times of extreme stress.
If the “Bozo Bullet” fails to disable a would-be assailant or if the target is missed, the second bullet is on its own, so to speak – and lethal.
Critics argue valuable time is wasted, when in the end, the same result is either achieved by using a real bullet, or the officer is unable to ward off an assailant in time because he is too busy affixing the “Bozo Bullet” device.
Despite the criticism, Eickhoff, who’s on a mission to clear the “Ferguson” name, and is under pressure from the Obama administration to find a less deadly means of police defense, is willing to give the Alternative a try.
“Hopefully we can get it on the streets soon,” he said. “Is it going work every time? Probably not … it’s not a catch-all. Every situation is different. But it gives an officer, if time allows – and that’s important, if time allows – a chance to save a life instead of taking a life.”
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