Everett Police Seek State Grant For More Less-Than-Lethal Options For Patrol Officers

FN-303 Mk2. Photo from FNHerstal website.

The projectiles can be filled with marking paint or irritant. Photo from FNHerstal website.

On Wednesday night the Everett City Council approved a grant application the Everett Police Department wants to send to the Washington State Department of Commerce. The application is asking for a little more than fifty thousand dollars to be used to purchase a dozen compressed air less-than-lethal launchers. From the briefing documents provided to the City Council with the grant application, here is an overview of the launchers.

The Everett Police Department had four 40mm less-than-lethal launchers assigned to the patrol division, four 40mm less-than-lethal launchers assigned to the Special Operations Group, and three 37mm less-than-lethal launchers assigned to the Tactical team (SWAT), all of which were required to be taken out of service pursuant to RCW 10.116.040.

To mitigate the effects of RCW 10.116.040, the Everett Police Department purchased five FN-303 compressed air less-than-lethal launchers.

The FN-303, manufactured by FN America utilizes compressed air to deliver .68 caliber projectiles. The fin-stabilized projectiles deliver optimum accuracy with maximum effectiveness and safety. Officers can quickly change from inert, marking, impact or irritant projectiles, with a clear view of the projectile type and remaining count in the magazine.

As opposed to the 40mm less-than-lethal launcher, these projectiles are not considered military equipment because they are not a firearm as defined by RCW due to the mechanism that the projectile is deployed is from compressed air. It has a top mounted MIL-STD-1913 rail for optical or electronic sights or other accessories. It is accurate at distances up to 50 meters.

Four of the less-than-lethal launchers are assigned to the patrol division and one launcher is assigned to SWAT. Four types of projectiles were purchased, two for training and two for field use. The two types of projectiles intended for field use are a yellow indelible paint, direct impact marking round and a pelargonic acid vanillylamide (PAVA) powder projectile. The PAVA powder is a synthetic capsaicinoid, similar to naturally derived OC.

The Everett Police Department is seeking to receive grant funds passed through the Department of Commerce by the United States Department of Justice to purchase twelve additional FN-303 compressed air less-than-lethal launchers. Four of the launchers are to be allocated to the Special Operations Group, as a replacement for the four 40mm launchers that were removed from service due to RCW 10.116.040.

The remaining eight compressed air less-than-lethal launchers are to be allocated to the patrol division. The addition of eight less-than-lethal launchers assigned to the patrol division would enable eight more officers per shift the ability to utilize long range less-than-lethal equipment, reducing the likelihood of officers having to use close range equipment, and enabling them to comply with the requirements set forth in RCW 10.120.020 to use de-escalation tactics which include increasing the distance between themselves and the individual upon whom force is being used.

The total amount of less-than-lethal launchers available to the patrol division would be twelve, which is the minimum number of officers working during the day shift. Eight additional compressed air less-than-lethal launchers also assists the Everett Police Department in fulfilling the requirements of 10.120.020 which mandates that less-than-lethal alternatives are made reasonably available to police officers.

The Everett Police Department would prefer to have a compressed air less-than-lethal launcher available to every officer, and this proposal is scalable to reach that goal, but is only requesting to receive grant funds to purchase twelve additional compressed air less-than-lethal FN-303 launchers at this time.

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