The newest tool to ride next to Keene police officers when they go out on calls is not exactly a new tool at all.
Keene Police Chief Emmitt Jackson said the department is using an old tool, but in a new way. One he says is safer for police officers and residents.
The department recently purchased two Remington Model 870 shotguns that deploy drag-stabalized bean bag rounds, a less lethal use of force.
Jackson called it a pain compliance tool.
“It gives us the ability to use a force option, kind of above the taser but below firearm, to give us something else for a force option,” he said. “With the taser you apply it once, then you have to put a new cartridge on. This, you use one round, it hurts and the person goes down.
“If they don’t drop the knife or gun, you apply it again. You can keep your distance and continue to apply force until that person becomes compliant. It’s safer for officers and it’s safer for citizens because we don’t have to transition to a deadly force option.”
Keene PD Lt. Steven Miller said the bean bag rounds is a great option when responding to those with mental illnesses.
“Many times we deal with mentally ill people that really need help, versus us having to use force on them,” he said. “A lot of times you end up with someone with a knife and it’s a suicide by cop. This gives us the option with us not having to shoot them. We can actually try to take them into custody and get them the help they need.”
Jackson said the guns come at a cost of about $600 each.
“We bought the special orange furniture that you can buy separate,” he said. “It’s the stock that says ‘less lethal’ on it and it’s very bright orange. Then of course the forward grip that you use to chamber a round is orange as well. So, if you look at the shotgun, it’s very clear that this is a less lethal versus a regular shotgun.”
Jackson said all around it is a much safer option and it gives the police department the ability to bring someone into compliance without using deadly force.
“Every officer, regardless of where they work, comes out of the academy having fired a shotgun,” he said. “That’s been in policing for decades. So now it’s just a new way to use an old tool.”