Miami Beach is tossing its remaining 18 shotguns — antiquated relics to modern-day policing — and replacing them with 100 new shotguns that fire bean bags instead of bullets.
The new weapons, in easily identifiable orange, are less lethal than the shotguns they are replacing and more flexible and accurate. To Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates, the bean-bag bullets are simply a new addition to the city’s non-lethal arsenal.
“We’re taking lethal shotguns off the street. They’re antiquated weapons,” Oates said.
Oates said the new shotguns with bean bag bullets — which are gaining popularity among police forces nationwide — are accurate within 70 feet. That’s a considerable difference from the 12 feet an officer needs to be within to use a Taser effectively on a subject.
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Earlier this year, Bal Harbour and other local police department began retrofitting their shotguns with bean bags.
Policing has evolved since shotguns were popular in the 1970s and ‘80s. More recently they have been replaced with semi-automatic rifles that are lighter, more flexible and much more accurate in deadly situations.
Miami Beach only has 18 shotguns left in its arsenal. The plan is to have 40 of the new weapons in use by November, the rest afterward. Oates said training takes about six weeks. Miami Beach has 140 of the deadlier rifles on the streets.
In a memo to the mayor and city commissioners this week, Oates said that more and more police departments are being scrutinized when deadly force is used.
“This is true even when the use of force is legal, justified and consistent with the organization’s policies and training,” the chief said. “Recent incidents have resulted in public scrutiny, outcry and growing rifts — marked by protest and violence — between police departments and the communities they serve.”