INDIANAPOLIS — IMPD is stressing its use of less-lethal force in certain situations that have the potential to turn deadly.
Monday, an IMPD supervisor at the firearms training facility demonstrated how their "less-lethal launchers" work and explained when they're most effective.
Holding up a reconfigured Remington Model 870 shotgun, IMPD Sgt. Michael Daley said, "This is one tool where we're saying, 'Hey, let's try to save people.'"
The "less-lethal shotguns" have been repurposed to shoot "soft rounds," which are Kevlar bags filled with lead pellets meant to disable a person without causing significant harm.
Daley said the target is either the buttocks or legs. The launchers are not meant for active shooters, but for someone who's, say, intoxicated or having a mental health crisis and is armed.
"A person naked in the middle of street threatening to kill themself, how do we help without putting ourselves in jeopardy where they kill us?" Daley said.
To avoid any confusion between lethal and less-lethal shotguns, the guns have orange stock or trim on the front and back, with the words "less lethal" printed on them.
Officers issued the launchers are not allowed to have regular shotguns in their patrol cars or shotgun ammunition. They also have to call dispatch before getting the gun out of their car and deploying and they're required to be used in a "team" situation, not by an officer working alone.
"What we see it as is one of our de-escalation tools, kind of like a Taser or chemical spray. It gives the officer a force option to deal with someone who's violent and typically armed," Daley said.
Since the program began in 2017, roughly 350 patrol officers have been equipped with the launchers.
Daley said they have been used successfully a number of times, though he didn't have the exact number readily available.