Officers now have a new nonlethal option to de-escalate situations, thanks to a donation from the Tulsa Police Department Foundation.
The department started handing out the first of 400 PepperBall TCP kits to its Tulsa police K9 and patrol officers Wednesday afternoon.
The handgun-sized weapon fires both shaped and round projectiles filled with 3 grams of agents like PAVA powder or CS gas. At $900 per kit, the project cost $360,000.
Sgt. Mike Parsons said the department has used similar systems for almost 20 years, but the new PepperBall guns have better features.
“It’s much more accurate, it’s much more reliable,” Parsons said. “It’s got a rifled barrel, it has shaped projectiles instead of round projectiles.”
Each gun uses compressed gas to fire much like a paintball gun. Tasers require officers to get within 15 feet of a suspect to use a taser, but the new PepperBall guns are accurate out to 150 feet away.
TPD Foundation Chairman Roger Chasteen said the guns let officers get control of a scene before things get out of hand.
“This is another initiative of the TPD Foundation to provide an additional tool to allow Tulsa Police Officers another option in de-escalating situations before they become more lethal,” Chasteen said in a statement. “Therefore, saving lives while protecting the safety of the citizens and officers alike.”
Apart from the physical pain of the projectile hitting at more than 300 feet per second, the projectiles burst on impact.
PAVA powder is similar to pepper spray in its effects, and Parsons said the projectile makes a 2-foot-wide cloud when it bursts.