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article image'Alternative' bullet to be tested in Ferguson

By Michael Thomas     Feb 20, 2015 in Technology
Police shootings have never been more prominent, and some police forces — including the Ferguson, Mo. police — are testing a reportedly non-lethal alternative to bullets when confronting a suspect.
The system is called "The Alternative," a product by Poway, Calif-based Alternative Ballistics. It was designed for use by police officers in a situation where they might decide to shoot a dangerous suspect.
The contraption is a 4.5-inch-long neon-orange devicethat can be mounted onto the rail system of the gun. The company claims sight picture won't be affected, nor will the operation of the gun. When the officer fires the gun, the bullet embeds itself into a metal sphere at the end of the gun, sending the larger projectile flying. At that point, the orange device pops off, and any followup bullets will be real bullets. It costs $45.
Alternative Ballistics CEO Christian Ellis told UT San Diego the company sees it as an airbag for the bullet. It's designed to slow down the bullet as well as reduce the ability of the bullet to penetrate. It will still hurt "a lot," but the company claims it will mean a much lower chance of death for anyone hit.
The idea isn't without its detractors, of course. Some believe that The Alternative could encourage officers to use their guns more often than they normally would, and the extra step of applying the device could put officers in grave danger.
A few police departments are slated to try out The Alternative, most notably the Ferguson, Mo. police, who are under more intense scrutiny after the events of the Michael Brown shooting. A department in Ohio and one in California are also committed to trying it out, and 50 departments country-wide as well as 17 international agencies are asking for demonstrations.
Though The Alternative is billed a less lethal option for police officers, other "less lethal" weapons like Tasers and pepper spray have also come under scrutiny, though are now in use across the country.
More about the alternative, Alternative Ballistics, Police shootings
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