Crime

Cops trading in bullets for BB’s in their shotguns

Bal Harbour Police Chief Mark Overtown shows off the new converted shotguns
Bal Harbour Police Chief Mark Overtown shows off the new converted shotguns crabin@miamiherald.com

Bal Harbour police are converting their shotguns into kinetic energy devices — retrofitted orange rifles filled with small bean bags that look like a Hacky Sack that when fired immobilize suspects instead of killing them.

“In an urban environment, shotguns are not the weapon of choice,” Police Chief Mark Overton said. “We can deploy anytime we have a subject threatening harm to himself or others.”

Overton said he first used the devices when he was police chief in Hialeah. Bal Harbour, the seaside city best known for its mall and luxury condos, has already converted the stocks of six shotguns for its supervisors and intends to have its 28 cops fully outfitted by the end of summer.

Technically, the ammunition is called a ballistic cloth sack. It looks like a squid or a little bean bag with several strings trailing behind it like tails. Inside the cloth are tiny granular BB’s. The shotgun is accurate from 25 yards away.

Bal Harbour police have Tasers, electronic stun devices, but see the new weaponry as an alternative that is likely to cause less harm. And, Overton said, it’s accurate from much farther away than a stun gun.

“It creates a better chance to subdue without deadly force,” the chief said.

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