The “less lethal” weapons available to subdue combative suspects, from Taser stun guns to shotguns that fire racquetball-like rounds, usually are reserved for worst-case scenarios, says the Los Angeles Times. “These tools are like an insurance policy,” said Costa Mesa, Ca., Cpl. Mark Manley. “We have to have them there if we need them, but most of the time we don’t have to use them.”
Among the tools are Costa Mesa’s new, .40-caliber shotguns that fire blue, rubber rounds the size of a racquetball. The department also has five new Taser stun guns. The department got the Tasers this summer. So far, they haven’t been used; just the sight of them has been enough to coax a surrender. The United States Department of Defense Human Effects Center of Excellence looked at the stun guns and last month released some initial data on their effectiveness and safety. Some in-custody deaths associated with the Taser may also be drug-related, but the weapon isn’t totally without its dangers. “Although likely to be uncommon, some severe, unintended effects might occur,” a summary of the report read.