Only six months after the highly controversial shooting of Michael Brown, Ferguson Police is once more in spotlight after the release of their new “less-lethal” gun attachment. As progressive media and netizens remember the case with strong empathy, the new method of incapacitating suspects is feared to give the police an upper hand.
The less-lethal device called The Alternative has the capacity to knock a suspect to the ground, “But not kill him or her,” says the instructors from Missouri city’s police department. It is a small orange device that is attached to the top of a normal handgun and extends to a Ping-Pong-ball-sized projectile in front of the muzzle, allowing the fired bullet to embed itself inside. The docking unit shoots off with enough force to knock a person down without causing serious injury or death.
New Gun is Society’s Missing Link
Christian Ellis, founder and CEO of Alternative Ballistics says the device “represents a critical ‘missing link’ between lethal force and less lethal force.” In conjunction to the alarming number of cases of unarmed black teenagers fatally injured by white police officers in Ferguson, the city’s assistant police chief, Al Eickhoff Google-searched “less lethal” with the hopes of finding an alternative to lethal force.
The 36-year police veteran – who also made waves in the Michael Brown case by forgetting to turn on the camera to record the shooting – said it’s about time an alternative to lethal force be put to use to prevent untimely deaths of innocent bystanders and individuals.
The Alternative is gaining popularity in the meager inventory of less-than-lethal police weapons, which include pepper-filled pellets, rubber-coated bullets, bean-bag-loaded shotguns, stun grenades and the Taser. Eickhoff professed his appreciation and says, “You are always looking to save a life, not take a life.”
Or is It?
Critics, however, express their concern over the risks the use of The Alternative may imply. Post-Michael Brown, issues on police force is highly sensitive and prone to attract worldwide comment. A separate report wrote how law enforcement agencies are accused of inflicting “casual brutality and needless death on minority communities.”
A professor of economics at St. Lawrence University named Steven Horwitz is known to apply the laws of economics to situations beyond the realm of finance and boldly made a statement regarding his fears this new device may bring. He spoke about what economists call a “moral hazard.”
In an interview with Yahoo News, Horwitz said, “By insuring officers against the less bad outcome, you are actually encouraging them to engage in riskier behavior.” He further argued that the creation of this device may possibly lead officers to be more likely to use their guns in situations where they have the option not to.
Horwitz likened the situation with the use of helmets. For example, football helmets, he says “embolden players to take greater risks with their heads — such as using them as weapons — than they would otherwise”. If this is true, helmets counter intuitively exacerbate the same issues and injuries it is supposed to address in the first place.
The Ferguson Police Department intends to officially distribute the Alternative to all of its officers after thorough training this week.