Thinking About Deadly Force

This may not be the answer, but it is an alternative.
This may not be the answer, but it is an alternative. SEE BELOW.

The recent presidential task force report on policing had some important things to recommend; actions, if sincerely taken, would do much to help restore trust in our nation’s police.

It is about changing the “warrior culture,” developing and applying new less-than-lethal force technology (and I will include “method/instrumentality”) in order to reduce deaths in police encounters, and the importance of having police who are effective conflict managers, who can de-escalate tense situations, and use other alternatives to custodial arrest like a summons.

From the Task Force:

  • Police culture should embrace a guardian mindset [as opposed to a “warrior” mindset] to guide their interactions with the citizens they serve (Recommendation 1.1).
  • Support the development of new “less than lethal” technology to help control combative suspects (Recommendation 3.6)
  • Police department policies and training on use of force should emphasize de-escalation and alternatives to arrest or summons. (Recommendation 2.2.1).



Alternative Ballistics has developed an innovative new firearm attachment that could give officers the ability to dampen their bullets and make them less lethal, potentially preventing unnecessary deaths during the apprehension of suspects.

The device, dubbed The Alternative, is a small plastic clip that can quickly be attached to the business end of an officer’s handgun. When the officer fires a bullet, it buries itself inside a metal ball, which detaches from the clip and is propelled forward at about one fifth of the bullet’s original velocity. Due to the secondary projectile’s larger surface area and lower speed, it can deliver a blow to a person without penetrating their body.

That’s not to say it doesn’t cause any damage. Speaking to CNN, Alternative Ballistics CEO Christian Ellis stressed that getting hit with The Alternative isn’t exactly a walk in the park. “It’s gonna feel like you had a professional baseball player hit you in the chest with a hammer,” he explained, “so it is going to hurt.” The thinking is that this should be enough to suppress a dangerous person, without putting holes in them.

If this non-lethal projectile isn’t enough to stop an assailant, however, the Alternative is designed to immediately give officers the ability to fire regular bullets again. Each clip is single-use and will completely detach from an officer’s firearm after the first shot.


  1. I copied this over to my Facebok page; I correspond with several of my nephews who are ex-marines and I know at least two of them would agree with you. Then, I thought it was so important that I emailed a copy to our Governor Baker in Massachusetts. On WGBH our cable/tv/PBS station Emily Rooney (her dad was famous) said we do not have a problem of over-policing in Massachusetts but she is totally wrong when she states this. I told the Governor in the email that reading your article from the blog might be helpful in getting a better understanding of the issues for our state. I know his aides go through the emails and if they find something pertinent they bring it to the governor’s attention — that is how it is supposed to work. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your ideas and your wisdom.


    1. It is very important for concerned citizens to know more about police and partner with them in making improvements. This does not need to be an adversarial process. We all can work together.


  2. Mr Couper, what circumstances do you believe have led to the current “warrior” trend in policing? The community policing policy that you enacted in Madison seems to still be working very well and it makes a lot of sense. What has led to societal changes?


    1. Lisa, see my blog post, “More on Militarization.” Use the search box. There are also to other posts on the subject. It will be more clear as to what happened when you read them… You may also note that the President’s Task Force on Policing has decried this militarization.


  3. I forwarded a copy of this article to the WGBH/PBS station in Boston hoping that they will examine the issues in more depth as their program “Greater Boston” has been in denial about what occurs . As a former teacher (retired) I am expressly concerned with the school to prison pipeline; we have one professor on the east coast , Mark Naison from Fordham University, who does short articles and “blog” on this topic. In Massachusetts we have had people in custody who die in Bridgewater State (criminal institution) prison and this has been on the Governor’s desk to do something about it. It bothers me when the major PBS stations are in denial. Thank you for all that you are willing to share.


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