“Had Miami Beach Police fired guns at 51-year-old David W. Winesett in December 2016, rather than 2015, he might have survived,” miaminewtimes.com theorizes. “Last December, police say, Winesett escaped a halfway house, robbed a bank, and allegedly waved a razor blade at officers before they fired their rifles directly into his chest in broad daylight on Alton Road. In 2015, those rounds were bullets. But beginning in November, some Miami Beach cops will be firing bean bags.” Quick digression . . .
Back when I was a hypnotist, I heard a lot of talk about having a “therapeutic tool-belt.” My colleagues touted the benefits of mastering a wide range of techniques that they could deploy depending on the clients’ needs. I’ve got seven words for that: jack of all trades, master of none. In truth, the therapists were avoiding the inevitable boredom of focused, disciplined and effective routine.
In the same sense, equipping cops with beanbag shotguns is pandering to political correctness at the expense of dependable procedure. It is, in fact, extremely dangerous. As the Portland PD learned when they shot a perp with a lethal round from a supposedly non-lethal shotgun.
Even though the Miami PD is removing lethal shotguns from their officers to avoid confusion, beanbag shotguns still pose a threat to their officers’ lives. In a life-or-death situation, they could well find themselves out-gunned.
It was the last lesson Brian Terry ever learned. The U.S. Border Patrol Agent shot at a Mexican rip crew with a DHS-mandated beanbag shotgun. They returned fire with ATF-enabled AKs, killing Mr. Terry.
Equally, the MPD police should forgo deploying beanbag shotguns because of the inevitable confusion it causes. Oscar Grant paid for the price for this issue when Johannes Mehserle shot him to death, after the San Francisco BART Officer mistook his service gun for a TASER.
That said, Mehserle was poorly trained. Thousands of cops carry both a TASER and a handgun without confusing the two (placing the weapons on different sides of their body). And pepper spray. And a baton. And a knife. And, for many, a backup gun.
Thus equipped, a police officer has one or two lethal options, and four non-lethal options (not including their hand skills). Not to mention the fact that many officers now have access to an AR-15 rifle in their patrol car.
On the face of it, adding 40 less-lethal beanbag shot to the Miami mix should solve problems, not create them. But don’t forget that a long gun requires two hands. So the moment an officer chooses a beanbag shotgun to deal with a threat like the one described above, he no longer has the option of deploying lethal force.
Equally, unless the officer chooses a non-lethal shotgun as he’s exiting the vehicle — to an event whose exact nature he cannot know — he has to return to his vehicle to get the less-lethal shotgun. Taking his eyes off the perp. Leaving the perp alone. Even if there are two officers involved, one with a firearm and one with a beanbag shotgun, that puts both officers at risk.
There’s only one circumstance when a beanbag shotgun would be a safe option: during a controlled stand-off involving multiple officers. At that point, a trained officer or SWAT team member could bring a less-lethal shotgun to bear without putting his fellow officers at risk.
[Note: in the video above, there are multiple officers on scene. That said, the perp comes perilously close to a woman walking nearby.]
I have no problem with a beanbag shotgun per se. I simply believe that equipping 40 Miami cop cars with beanbag shotguns is a bone-headed move from a police force more concerned about political correctness than officer safety. Or the safety of the general public.