Metro looks for new options for less lethal force, shows off new sponge rounds

LAS VEGAS - Lethal force: It's something all police officers have the authority to use, but they try not to, and now Metro Police are taking steps to cut down on how and when they fire their weapons.

They are also looking at new options that will allow them to use a less lethal use of force against perpetrators.

In fact, Metro will start using a new tool this summer. They shot a small beanbag at a man during an officer-involved shooting over the weekend near Nellis Boulevard and Judson.

Eventually, Metro Police had to use a lethal round on the man, but the first round fired was a less lethal round.

The new less lethal rounds will be bigger, and a tad bit softer, but it's expected to hurt a lot more, Metro said.  It will be shot out of a weapon that looks like a blast from the past -- a 1930's Tommy Gun.  But Metro Police says this is the future of the less lethal force.'

It's called a Sponge Round, and it's being fired from a gun SWAT teams in the Las Vegas valley have used for years. 

"What it does is induce pain," said Sgt. Shawn Romprey, Metro Police.

One of the guns shoots one round at a time, while the other shoots a bunch.

According to Lt. Tom Melton with Metro's SWAT, his team won't be the only ones using these rounds.  It's a big investment.

"You're looking at a $2,000 piece of equipment right here," Melton said. "That's a lot of money." 

Sgt. Romprey heads Metro's training facility.  He says officers will start learning how to use the new tool next month, making the department one of the few to use sponge rounds as part of a regular patrol.

"It just adds another tool for the officer before we have to use deadly force," Romprey said.
Anytime we are able to give a person a chance to live before we have to deploy lethal force -- you can't put a price on that in our opinion," Melton said.

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