Police in more than 20 North American cities are testing the latest in less-lethal alternatives to bullets – “blunt impact projectiles” that cause suspects excruciating pain but stop short of killing them.
Or at least that’s the goal.
Police have long had what they considered “nonlethal” weapons at their disposal, including pepper spray, stun guns and beanbag projectiles. But even those weapons have caused deaths, leading to a search for “less lethal” alternatives. The quest has taken on new urgency in the past year amid furor over a string of high-profile police shootings of black men.
Micron Products Inc., based in Fitchburg, makes the new ammunition, which are much larger than rubber bullets and have silicone heads that expand and flatten on impact, enhancing the pain and incapacitating a suspect. One executive of the company that patented the technology was a guinea pig and described experiencing the business end of a BIP as the “equivalent of being hit by a hockey puck.”