WPD training with new, less lethal weapons

WICHITA, Kan. There's a new option available when officers may be faced with using deadly force.

The Wichita Police Department is now training officers to use new, less lethal weapons. A small bean bag now being used in the officers' training may not look like much, but it can fit inside a shotgun shell and deliver powerful impact.

Wichita police say the new bean bag guns will help reduce the chance of death, while providing a new level of protection for officers.

The gun being used by officers during training Tuesday looks like any other 12-gauge shotgun. But it's no ordinary ammunition coming out of the barrel.

The bean bag guns are the newest, less-lethal weapon to come to the Wichita Police Department.

"The goal is to reduce the potential for death and serious injury," Said WPD Lt. Chris Halloran.

Halloran says the SWAT team has already been using bean bag guns, but it's a first for officers on the street.

"This is a great option," he said. "They can bean bag them in the legs, for example, or the stomach, and usually through pain compliance, they'll comply after one or two hits."

Halloran says the bean bag guns could be safer than other less lethal weapons like Tasers.

With bean bag guns, officers don't have to be as close to a potentially dangerous person. If fired too close, the bean bag guns can be deadly.

"If they're less than seven yards, which is 21 feet, it could cause serious injury, if not death," Halloran said.

That's why all officers with the Wichita Police Department are undergoing mandatory training for the bean bag guns.

Halloran says the gun used to fire the bean bugs can also shoot regular ammunition. The bean bag guns are colored blaze orange so there's no confusion between the less lethal gun and a regular shotgun.