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Kanawha County highlights non-lethal weapons training

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:21 PM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Deputies said “bean bag, bean bag, bean bag!” before firing a shot at training Wednesday.

Sgt. Brian Humphreys with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department said this training helps deputies know when to use non-lethal shotguns that fire bean bags.

“A few years ago, there was a situation where a man had a knife and cut the homeowner of the house,” Humphreys said.

He said deputies responded to the incident.

“He stood there with a knife, and one of the deputies was able to get out with a less lethal shotgun, and several rounds later he dropped the knife,” Humphreys said.

Humphreys said these type of incidents are what deputies train for.

“They have a bean bag that is packed into a shotgun shell, and it fires at several hundred feet per second,” Humphreys said.

Another non-lethal weapon Kanawha County deputies have on hand is a Taser. But in a knife fight, using a Taser can be dangerous.

“To use a Taser in that circumstance, the maximum range would be about 25 feet for a Taser, somebody with a knife,” Humphreys said. “They can charge me before I actually transition to a firearm or something else.”

Non-lethal shotguns are not something every agency has, and focusing on the tools deputies carry and have access to, can be used as a way to recruit new deputies.

“Typically three or four people per shift will have this training,” Humphreys said. “In this case yesterday, it was about this training we received some comments. It’s something that people agree with, and we have been doing it for ten years and have just never talked about it. It is something that people have criticized and say that you should not use less lethal weapons in situations where someone has a knife.”

Humphreys says deputies will continue to use what is necessary for different situations.

“We want to preserve life to bring people who are accused of a crime before a judge and jury,” Humphreys said.

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