LAWRENCE (KSNT) – The Lawrence Police Department has now fully transitioned to the use of “less-lethal” shotguns.

According to the LKPD, the traditional shotguns that have been in use since the 1970’s have now been fully retired and all ammunition has been safely disposed of. Officers on the force will complete training with the new shotguns this week.

“Since I began my journey to reimagine policing in Lawrence, I knew this change would take place. When they’re able, officers already utilize safer compliance options such as pepper spray and tasers, so this decision was essentially a no-brainer,” said LKPD Police Chief Rich Lockhart. “No one wants an incident with a deadly outcome; not the police, not the community, and certainly not the person in crisis nor that person’s family.”

While more traditional tools such as batons, tasers and pepper spray remain in use, they require officers to be closer for successful use. This increases danger and the amount of time it takes to de-escalate a situation.

“But the truth is, people in crisis or those committing violent crimes, simply are not thinking rationally and our officers took an oath to protect the innocent and keep Lawrence safe and secure,” Lockhart said. “Having more tools to confine, deescalate, and conclude a dangerous situation, while reducing the risk of fatality, will always be our goal.”

The new shotguns can fire beanbags up to 75 feet, giving officers more time and distance to make better decisions in crisis situations. A distinct orange fore-end stock also gives the new shotguns a unique design that is more recognizable.

The less-lethal shotguns are authorized to be used in situations where a person is armed with a weapon and the tactical circumstances allow for the safe use of the bean bag ammunition. They are also to be used when a person has made credible threats of self-harm or harm to others, riotous behavior or if there is probable cause to believe the person has already committed a violent crime.