Ferguson Police Get Less-Lethal Devices Following Michael Brown’s Death

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

In the wake of the backlash over Michael Brown’s death, Ferguson police are testing less-than-lethal devices that will fit on their handguns and transfer energy from a normally lethal bullet to a slower moving, larger ball that will hurt but not kill suspects.

Called the “The Alternative,” Ferguson assistant police chief Al Eickhoff found the device by doing an Internet search for less-lethal options.

According to The Washington Post, “The Alternative” positions a ping-pong size orange ball just in front of the end of a handgun’s barrel. When an officer fires the gun, the bullet lodges in the ball and launches it at the suspect, moving fast enough to knock the suspect down, but not kill him or her.

If the suspect gets up, the next round will presumably be lethal, as there is only one ball on “The Alternative.”

Five Ferguson police instructors are currently training with “The Alternative” but plan to disperse them to “the entire force of 55 officers” after becoming familiar with the device.

The device has to be snapped onto the gun before it be used. For this reason, former Springfield, Missouri, Police Major Steve Ijames says the device “exposes police officers to greater risk.” He said officers will have to take time to retrieve “The Alternative” from their belts and snap it on before firing.

Ferguson police have not indicated when less-lethal force will be required instead of lethal force.

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