Are Less-Lethal Weapons Too Costly For Many Cities?


A Huntington Beach, Ca., police officer was still trying to load pepper spray bullets into the gun last month when a young woman, a knife firmly in hand, made a sudden move that police took to be a lunge in their direction, says the Los Angeles Times. Two other officers fired at the woman, striking her in the chest, the part of the body that law enforcement regulations suggest police aim for in a life-threatening encounter. She died a short time later.

Local residents said they were appalled that the 19-year-old woman couldn’t be spared. Police in nearby Irvine brought another standoff to a nonfatal conclusion because nearly every patrol car in the city is equipped with a 40-millimeter launcher that can release volleys of pepper spray, rubber projectiles, and other “less than lethal” munitions. In Huntington Beach, only a few patrol cars are equipped with launchers. “There are financial issues you have to deal with – plus training issues,” said Rick Martinez of the Anaheim police, where Chief John Welter’s budget priority is getting more officers on the street. “These alternative weapons compete with a lot of different priorities.”


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