WALLA WALLA, Washington –Washington State Patrol has made some policy changes to help reduce the number of suicide-by-cop scenarios, which have been on the rise in the state. Troopers can now utilize bean bag rounds to help reduce the number of people killed by officers in defense of their own lives, and get them the mental health help they need.
“Basically, someone who’s suicidal that doesn’t want to end their own life will draw attention to themselves or get stopped in just a normal setting,” says WSP Trooper Chris Thorson. They will often “walk up with a knife or some dangerous object or even a gun, basically forcing the police officer to use lethal force to defend his own life.”
The procedure works if there are multiple troopers at hand. One would fire the beanbag round and then other troopers would safely move in and handcuff the person.
“The last thing we want to do is kill somebody in the line of duty,” says Thorson. “We all have family we all have kids …the exact last thing that we want is to be put in that scenario.”
The decision comes after a man was killed on I-5 last July after he was stopped for driving erratically, and exited his vehicle with a large knife.
“That trooper had no other option but to shoot the individual,” says Thorson. “In that scenario maybe a bean bag would have been a good option.”