Detroit police announce new less-lethal weapons, body cameras for officers

DETROITDetroit Police Department is taking new steps to prevent officer-involved shootings and it’s going well beyond new body cameras.

Monday afternoon, DPD leadership is hoping the new so-called less-lethal weapons to end tense situations without costing a life.

Pepperball launchers and foam projectile launchers are to give the force new tools that don’t involve deadly force.

This comes after two high-profile deadly police shootings; 20-year-old Porter Burks was killed in October and 27-year-old Kaizia Miller was killed in November.

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Assistant Chief of Police Eric Ewing said researching and purchasing these weapons were in the works months before those deadly shootings.

“Looking over the past year, where there have been several incidents that occurred in the city where officers were physically attacked and if we were provided with different tools we would have had a different outcome,” Ewing said.

He said each of the new weapons meet a specific need officers have.

" We always want to go out and resolve issues as peacefully as we can and these tools will give us an opportunity to do that,” said Ewing. “For instance, if someone had a knife or someone had a bat or something like that out on the street we’re able to resolve that without using deadly force.”

The pepper ball launcher helps with distance.

“I think the range of the pepper ball is up to 100 feet. We could fire that projectile out and it would emit a 12-foot cloud and get the individual to succumb to some of that mist so we could get those individuals into custody,” Ewing said.

The other weapon launches foam rounds that have more of an impact and a range of 15 to 50 feet.

“You would utilize that to get an individual to comply with orders of an officer or if the individual had some type of weapon in its hand other than a gun that they could fire a projectile back at us,” said Ewing.

Deputy Chief Mark Bliss said the new body cameras have more than just an upgraded resolution. The camera has the ability to upload video straight to the cloud and has a detachable battery.

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“Our current system, the battery and the camera are one. So if your battery dies you have to remove the camera and you have to get a brand new camera you can’t switch out the battery,” said Bliss. “This one allows you to switch out the batteries.”

Right now, body cameras are only used for patrol officers, but the new cameras will be for all officers.

The new weapons do not replace any weapons officers already carry but are an addition.

To view the department’s announcement, watch the video player below.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.