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Port Huron police to purchase 19 ‘less lethal launchers’

A screenshot of PHPD dash cam footage of a man with a machete, which aired on WDIV Channel 4, April 6, 2018.

By Jim Bloch

The Port Huron Police Department is buying 19 less lethal launchers from Close Quarters Tactical, LLC, of Shelby Township, for $25,515.

The city council unanimously approved the purchase at its regular meeting Aug. 8.

“As part of our use of force strategies, we have less lethal tactical measures such as bean bag guns,” said City Manager James Freed, as heard on the recording of the meeting posted on the city’s website.

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The department is phasing out bean bag guns and replacing them with weapons that shoot  foam bullets. Research suggests that foam bullets cause fewer injuries, such as bruises, abrasions and lacerations that bean bags.

The purchase is being paid for by a federal Byrne Memorial Grant in the amount of $19,039 and $6,476 from the St. Clair County Prosecutor’s Office Forfeiture Fund.

“If you remember … several of our officers won officer of the year awards from the Police Officers Association of Michigan for disarming a man with a machete — that dash cam made statewide news,” said Freed.

The incident occurred in April 2018 when a resident threatened police with a machete. Police disabled the man with a beanbag shotgun.

“Our officers never want to use lethal force,” said Freed. “They want to protect human life, even those having mental health issues and those who are vulnerable. (The new launcher) can be used at much farther ranges up to 75 yards.”

Freed said the weapons will give the city’s officers a life-saving option in a number of critical situations.

“Chief Platzer has done a remarkable job seeking funding out because of his relationships,” said Freed. “His team did an excellent job filing for the DOJ Byrne grant. His team wrote that grant, filed that grant, did all the paperwork. Chief and our prosecutor have an excellent work relationship. Chief was able to meet with the prosecutor and using the forfeiture fund to fund the difference.”

The council approved the purchase by a vote of 6-0. Council member Rico Ruiz was absent.

Council member Anita Ashford thanked the chief for saving the city some money.

“I don’t think there was a time up here where you brought something before us that we did not pass to make sure our officers had the equipment to do the job,” Ashford told the chief. “That’s one thing we don’t want to take short cuts on and that is that our police department is highly equipped to do the job, the best job they can to keep us safe.”

Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at bloch.jim@gmail.com.

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