But although the 40mm guns look ominous, Chief Mike Masterson says they won't be launching grenades any time soon.
Masterson was scheduled to go before the Boise City Council Tuesday night, to get approval to buy nine 40mm grenade launchers from Penn Arms, one of the country's primary makers of such blasters. Results of the council meeting were not available by press time.
Instead of launching grenades, Masterson said the guns will be used to launch "non-lethal" payloads like beanbags. Although BPD has used shotguns to launch beanbags before, Masterson said, those single-action pump guns are slow. With the Penn Arms guns, six beanbags are loaded into a drum like an old tommygun.
"They will expand our use of non-lethal launchers," Masterson said in an interview with BW.
For now, the main non-lethal weapons officers carry with them are batons and Tasers. The purchase of the nine guns, at $2,260 each, would put one launcher per patrol shift on the streets, with another ready for backup.
But beanbags aren't the only thing BPD might launch out of these guns. Masterson said the technology is in development to put together a long-range Taser-like device, launched from the 40mm gun. Instead of having the wires spring from a handheld Taser pistol, officers would be able to fire the device from afar.