Sac PD demonstrates less-lethal force training

Police hope training will lead to a reduction in use of deadly force (November 24, 2017)

The Sacramento Police Department is equipping virtually all of its employees with additional less-lethal force training.

This comes in the wake of last year's high-profile shooting death of Joseph Mann, at the hands of Sac PD officers.

In July 2016, Sac PD responded to a call about a man who was acting erratically while holding a knife. The responding police officers didn't know whether the individual, Joseph Mann, also had a gun, which it turns out he did not.

Dash cam and surveillance video shows officers shot and killed Mann.

It's a scenario Police Chief Daniel Hahn hopes to avoid by equipping all officers with more non-lethal options.

"Ideally, at the end of that incident," Hahn told ABC10 News in October, "whoever is in that crisis has the ability to work on whatever their issues are tomorrow."

Sac PD invited local journalists to come observe the less-than-lethal force training.

"Stop right there and drop the knife and put your hands up," one officer cried out to a robotic dummy Friday afternoon, at the Northern California Regional Training Facility.

Instead of a handgun or rifle, however, the officer was holding something called a 40 mm launcher. It projects an object with a spongy blue tip that feels like a Nerf ball or racquetball.

"It's going to be certainly uncomfortable, but it's not a round that could potentially be fatal," Sac PD public information officer Linda Matthew told ABC10 News.

The department is in the midst of training the entire department to use three tools: pepper ball guns, bean bag shotguns and 40 mm launchers.

These so-called "less-lethal munitions" are meant to stop, not kill, a suspect.

"The tools that we're now training them on, it's going to give (officers) more distance," Matthew explained. "Before, if you had someone who has a knife....our (less-lethal) options were: we've got our Taser, we've got our baton. Those are options where we had to be in a close range for them to be effective."

The 40 millimeter launcher and beanbag shotgun, on the other hand, can be effective from 20 yards away, Matthew said.

The pepper ball releases an irritant.

"It causes your eyes to water and your nose to run," Matthew said.

Since the training began in April, Sac PD has trained some 200 of its officers and sergeants on these three "less-than-lethal force" options.

Even though the department has had these tools available in the past, "we had them with just our supervisors," Matthew said, "so if our officers went to a call, they'd essentially have to wait for a supervisor to get on scene, but now we are equipping all of our officers with these options."

Sac PD hopes to have the whole department trained by mid-2018.

The City of Sacramento spent $100,000 on non-lethal training, on top of the $700,000 spent on equipment related to reducing lethal force, including body cameras and the less-lethal launchers.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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