I-Team 8

IMPD demonstrates ‘bean bag’ launcher designed to be powerful, but less lethal

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — By the end of the week, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department will have close to 50 more cops who are trained to use a less lethal tool.

IMPD doesn’t want this modified shotgun in the hands of every IMPD officer.

Sgt. Mike Daley, an IMPD firearms instructor, called it a launcher; the gun doesn’t shoot regular shotgun rounds. Cops are trained to shout “bean bag” before pulling the trigger. It sounds like a real shotgun; however, the bean-bag round is a Kevlar fabric bag filled with lead shot. Daley says it feels like getting hit by a 300 mph fastball. The department says the bag of lead shot is a far less lethal projectile then a regular shotgun shell.    

“The effort in the design was to provide an officer an additional tool that they can use to try and save lives so it is what we see as one of our de-escalation tools, kind of like the Taser or chemical spray or OC, it gives an officer a force option to deal with somebody that is violent and typically armed,” Daley said.

Close to 350 IMPD officers carry the less lethal launcher. The department spent less than $100 to change the stock color of older department-issued shotguns, which then were re-issued to officers who have been trained on how and when to use this firearm. When a cop breaks out a launcher, the department requires a back officer to have a lethal shotgun ready and waiting.

Daley describes the type of situation the launcher is intended for. “A person naked in the middle of the street has a knife threatening to kill themselves,” Daley said. 

A cop armed with a launcher can stay 60 feet away, as opposed to a cop with a Taser and or chemical spray who must get closer and possibly be injured.

The department is putting a greater emphasis on training of less lethal and nonlethal force. The use of the launcher is not tied directly to the department’s body-worn camera system. 


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