HANNA — The Hanna Marshal’s office looks to enforce laws in less lethal ways after implementing its new weapons program last week.
Marshal Jeff Neimark said Monday the staff has started carrying new orange-marked firearms, beanbags, pepper balls and other munitions in their vehicles in order to stop threats in a less harmful manner and to lesson the department’s liability.
“If you use less lethal munition to stop a threat, obviously the liability in our department drops dramatically,” Neimark said, “especially when it’s used efficiently and correctly, because the office is being trained to stop a threat not using deadly force.”
Neimark originally received training by the Cheyenne Police Department on how and when to use such weapons in order to become a less-lethal weapon instructor. He has since trained his deputies.
Although Neimark said he hasn’t had an incidences while in Hanna in which they would need to use it, he has seen necessary situations in other locations that lethal weapons could have helped saved lives.
“We have to train to be ready no matter if it is a small department, or a bigger department,” he said. “Anything can happen at anywhere, at any time. I think it’s up to the law enforcement to be prepared.”
Neimark added such an incident in which officers would use the non-lethal weapons is in a situation a suspect is wearing thick layers in the winter and a taser isn’t penetrating it, or if a mentally disturbed person wielded a knife and made threats to kill himself or others.
“Without less lethal ammunition training, an officer on the street may have the only option of drawing their duty weapon,” Neimark said. “I think it’s important that the officer has this training to be able make the appropriate decision.”
Neirmark further said in the event officers use non-lethal weapons, the department would have the ability to get the individual some help at a facility and find out if they haven’t been taking medications.
Neimark added the lethal weapons would allow the officers to catch a threat beyond a taser’s range of about 25 feet without the chance of fatally wounding them.
Hanna Marshal’s Deputy Daniel Starr said the officers would continue to carry their regular pistols and be allowed to make a judgment call when to use the less lethal weapons, depending on the situation and how comfortable they feel.
“I’m not sure how often we will use it, but it’s just another option for us so we don’t necessarily have to use force with our pistols unless we have to.”
Starr added the transition has gone well since training and feels the option will help.
“This will be a very good program for things,” Starr said. “And I know other agencies that went to this throughout the state and other states.”
Neimark has offered up training to others in the county. The training is between about 1-2 days long.