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Less-Lethal Force Options: Specialty Impact Systems (From Patrol Response to Contemporary Problems: Enhancing Performance of First Responders Through Knowledge and Experience, P 91-108, 2006, John A. Kolman, ed. -- See NCJ-215624)

NCJ Number
Don Whitson
Date Published
18 pages
After discussing the philosophy of using less-lethal force in police encounters, this chapter addresses the capability and selection of specialty impact projectiles, methods for launching projectiles, potential risks and injury, and legal considerations.
The discussion of the less-lethal force philosophy considers the following topics: defining the mission, training, selection criteria, tactical planning and less-lethal decisionmaking, and force application considerations. The section on force application considerations focuses on accuracy, distance, effectiveness, incapacitation, injury potential, cost, accessibility, and realistic training. After careful consideration and analysis of philosophy and tactical principles, the selection of the specific projectile for a specialty impact system is discussed. Issues important in selection are accuracy and the projectile's intended purpose. The author recommends that patrol officers have sufficient variety and flexibility in their projectiles and their delivery systems to allow deployment from sufficient distances for officer safety, but which can also be used at close range if required. The section on the delivery methods for impact projectiles briefly describes the 12-gauge shotgun, the 37mm launcher, the 40mm launcher, compressed air launchers, and hand-delivered projectiles. A discussion of the potential risks and injuries from specialty impact munitions addresses blunt trauma injuries as the most common injuries associated with specialty impact munitions. The author notes that blunt trauma impacts to the head, neck, groin, face, chest, abdomen, and spine can result in death or serious injury. The section on legal considerations recommends that photographs of injuries resulting from specialty impact munitions should be included in the case documentation to show that the force used to gain compliance was objectively reasonable and necessary for the protection of the suspect, the officer, or a third party.


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