The Importance of Responsible Usage and Training
With protests spreading across the nation, images of injured demonstrators have flooded our news feeds. The nation has cast a critical eye on the response of police, and their use of what are referred to as “non-lethal” crowd control methods. Many are questioning the definition of the term and its use by authorities. The Department of Defense has classified non-lethal tools as:
“Weapons, devices, and munitions that are explicitly designed and primarily employed to incapacitate targeted personnel or materiel immediately, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel, and undesired damage to property in the target area or environment. Non-lethal weapons are intended to have reversible effects on personnel and materiel.”
While most injuries sustained by protestors still technically fall within the definition of outcomes for non-lethal devices, many were serious and could have been avoided. The common factor behind these injuries comes down to either a lack of training, or outright failure to follow safety guidelines.
When non-lethal tools are utilized incorrectly, serious injury and death have occurred. Rubber bullets for example, created in England to combat the Northern Ireland rebellion, were designed with lower velocity and impact to reduce lethal force. These bullets were meant to be fired at the lower body or skipped across the ground towards the target. Yet we have seen protestors with grievous head wounds from rubber bullets. It’s clear in these cases rubber bullets were used improperly, perhaps even negligently.
Data Backed Safety
From rubber bullets, to conducted energy, to chemical irritants, there are a variety of non-lethal tools available. The question being asked now is which is safest. While there have not been significant studies on every non-lethal, we do know some are more dangerous than others. Of reported injuries for example, permanent damage was reported in 15% of rubber bullet injuries, and only 0.7% of chemical irritant injuries. We can see the clear winner, and it’s time to put the data to good use.
Proposed Restrictions and Training
Some cities are making the move to restrict non-lethals. Portland police are facing a new temporary agreement where non-lethal devices can only be used “when lives are at risk” and cannot be used to disperse crowds “if people engaged in passive resistance are likely to be struck.”
This is another area where the importance of training stands out. It’s not just about how to operate a non-lethal, but when it’s appropriate to use. The Portland agreement primarily focuses on the latter. With proper training and education, this kind of agreement shouldn’t be unnecessary. And it’s why training is such an important part of our mission at HERO™.
We stand by our commitment to non-lethal solutions used responsibly and appropriately, and backed by thorough training. Non-lethal defense should be effective and safe when used correctly. We designed HERO™ 2020 specifically with these values in mind, and have championed training as a core aspect of our brand. We hope you’ll join us in creating a safer world for everyone.