“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.

28 Responses to Why Less Lethal Beanbag Shotguns for Beat Cops Are a Bad Idea

  1. Its called the “lethal cover” necessity. As in dont deploy a less lethal weapon unless you have another officer present with a gun in hand ready to go. If you dont have lethal cover, then dont deploy the ERIW….. othwrwise beanbag guns can be pretty handy and avoid a lot of paperwork and public outcry. 40mm/37mm less lethal is way better though.

  2. “Had 51-year-old David W. Winesett, not been a turdbag, he might have not had a run in with police in 2015, and he might have survived to this day as a useful member of society.”

    There. Fixed

  3. I wonder how many Miami PD officers will have to get killed before someone realizes that this is a really boneheaded idea? Just one, maybe? Only one grieving widow and maybe just a few fatherless children?

    • Management is always creating policies that get you killed. First prize goes to NASA. Spectacular wacks with take off and re-entry.

      • Every astronaut is/was a volunteer. They all new the risks of sitting on top of a giant skyrocket/bomb and getting shot into space, as well as the risks of fiery re-entry.

        It’s something entirely else when you sign up for one job and then the management decides that you hove limited iptions for your safety.

  4. Beanbag shotguns are a stupid idea but even more stupid were the comments by the morons watching out the window. They actually sounded disappointed they didn’t shoot him with real guns. As far as the officers’ performance, it all comes down to training, something the major metro forces sadly lack today.

    • I’ll bet that net-throwing gun to capture drones would do an even better job. How long until some major Metro PD deploys some of those? to handle these perps?

  5. Though all officers should have a less than lethal option available, having a Batman utility belt full of such options will only serve to get more officers killed.

    What can sound reasonable in the plush offices of the state legislature building is often not practical or even desirable on the street.

    • For most of the history of organized police work in this country the LEOs got along with two things on their belts: A 6-shot revolver and the “less-lethal” option of a sap/blackjack or billy club. I look at the cops today with their unwieldy utility belts full of gadgets and options and not only wonder how they carry all that crap every day, but how they go through the list of available options when confronted with a situation.

      It used to be that when you fvcked with a cop you knew you were going to get your head whacked or get shot. How does it affect criminal (or just stupid) behavior when they know the cop has to try several less-lethal options to deal with you before he reluctantly decides to shot your ass?

  6. RF – to clarify, this is Miami Beach Police Department, not Miami Police Department.

    Miami and Miami Beach are two different cities with two vastly different police forces. MPD still uses normal shotguns. MBPD made the political-correctness switch.

    Politically they are different as well. Miami is much more center-road than Miami Beach. Miami Beach is a social justice warrior paradise, basically.

  7. Out of the 11,000 or so killed by someone else with a gun every year about 1,000 of those are by cops. Everyday in the US at least one person is killed by a cop. With the mean being 3.

  8. I have to disagree. We’re not talking about officers carrying around this shotgun at all times… I assume. Having the option in the trunk seems like a perfectly fine proposition to me… at least at first. Compared to TASER training having a shotgun available for when there are at least two officers on scene isn’t that hard to train.

    The problem I worry about is that the media and ‘citizen force review boards’ will start asking why an officer didn’t go back to his trunk and try to use such a shotgun against all threats, even when it would be completely unreasonable to expect such a response.

  9. Less lethal? Tell that to the dead 95 year old WW2 vet in Park Forest,IL shot by beanbag rounds. The cop waz scared ’cause the old dude waved a knife at him. 95-and the young black cop skated. Where was his riot?

  10. I see no problem with bean bags of they’re used right. With five in the tube you make the first less than lethal and the next four 00 buck.

    As for officer’s “hand skills”… unless the guy is training off duty don’t make me laugh. A week of grappling and a week of judo throws might work on totally untrained people but try that on someone with 6 months experience and you’re gonna get hurt.

  11. Bean bag rounds are for TV shows.

    In the 70s there was some experimentation with a device firing large bean bag rounds (like a 37mm shell). It was designed to double as a baton after you fired it. There was even a consumer version call the “prowler fouler”. The advantage would be that it was larger than a 12 gauge shell and couldn’t be confused.

    If you need to defend yourself, lethal is really the only reliable option to stop a threat.

    LEOS tend to use the “non-lethal” stuff way too quickly in my opinion. Too many people tased for strong words with agitated cops.

    Someone with a stun gun or taser threatening me will be met with deadly force. Just as if they had a bat, knife, or gun.

    • Considering a buddy of mine had two of his ribs broken by a bean-bag at 50 yards… Yeah no. Beanbags are fine as long as they are backed up by lethal ammo.

  12. I don’t see a problem as long as there’s another cop with a lethal firearm at the ready.

    Don’t deploy the less-lethal unless absolutely needed. Strict SOP should be followed. And make it a severe personal responsibility if one accidentally loads a 00 buck. Or better yet, get specialised beanbag launchers and leave the 870/500s alone. And no don’t try to retrieve it when there’s no time.

  13. The job of LEO is to ‘protect and serve’, not execute…..at least it used to be.
    Beanbag rounds have saved many lives. It, like EVERY device carried by and
    available to LEO has advantages and disadvantages. The VERY BIG advantage
    of using bean bags out of a shotgun is they WORK. It is a VERY painful thing
    to be struck by. If said weapon is designed and marked in such a way that it is
    distinctly different from a regular shotgun using traditional ammunition then it
    would require GROSS INCOMPETENCE for an officer to shoot a person with live
    ammo instead of a beanbag by mistake. And if such an error is made we DO have
    the means of addressing that issue if we just had the balls…..it’s called ‘FELONY
    MANSLAUGHTER’ and if cops had to actually face this charge when they f**k up
    they’d be a helluva lot more careful in how they did their jobs.

    When used properly under the correct circumstances with OTHER OFFICERS CLOSE
    BY to provide cover non/less lethal technology should be the default method of response
    by LEO in addressing uncooperative people.

  14. The solution is simple. Aim for the leg. It worked every time for Arnold and Jim Caviezel. Okay, not so well for Danny Glover. Two out of three is pretty good, though.

  15. “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.”

    I maintain to this day that this is all but impossible, and was merely a convenient excuse for the BART cop who simply lost control of himself and the situation and made a horrible decision.

  16. In Less Lethal Training the first thing you are supposed to be taught is not to even attempt use unless you have a cover unit with lethal option.

    LESS LETHAL does not mean NON-LETHAL. Even pepper spray can cause respiratory arrest. We had an officer take a spray in class, he had no history of asthma but had 1st attack that day. If half the. class weren’t crosstrained as paramedics & had access to epinephrine she’d have died

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