SLU police owners of new Sage Launcher - Hammond Star: Home

April 18, 2015

SLU police owners of new Sage Launcher

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Posted: Friday, December 7, 2001 12:00 am

The man wielded a large knife as sheriff's deputies surrounded him.

Each time they tried to move forward, the man slowly raked the knife across his own arm, spilling large amounts of blood from a wound that would ultimately require about 250 stitches.

"We were about 25 feet from him," recalled Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Deputy Matt Digby. "But each time we tried to move in closer he would cut himself more - deeper and more. If we would have had something like the Sage Launcher, then we probably could have saved him from getting a lot of those stitches."

Digby remembered that case Thursday when he and half a dozen other local law enforcement officers got a lesson in less-than-lethal force. They were participating in a class that certified the officers to use the SL-1 and SL-6 Sage Launcher.

"We call it less-than-lethal because there really is no such thing as a non-lethal launcher," said Southeastern Louisiana University Police Sgt. Hal Price.

Resembling a Thompson machine gun with its 37-millimeter cylinder that holds six rounds, the SL-6 is deceptively light. It packs practically no recoil, has no muzzle blast and fires a polyurethane projectile that travels at about 120 miles per hour. The S-L 1 is an even lighter model that fires only one round.

Price, a master instructor who is certified to train other instructors in the use of the Sage launchers, said SLU recently bought the $600 SL-1. The SL-6 costs $1,200.

He said the certification session was held to introduce local law officers to the weapons and the use of less-than-lethal force.

"The whole idea is to give officers an alternative to the use of lethal force," he said. "To my knowledge, Covington is the only police department in our area, besides us, who has the Sage Launcher."

Hammond Police Department is planning to buy two of the weapons, said Sgt. Vicki Corkern. She said the department had been looking at buying a "bean-bag" launcher.

"But the difference between the bean bag and the Sage Launcher is like the difference between night and day," she said. "After using the Sage Launcher, we decided this is the way we wanted to go."

Price agreed that the Sage has numerous advantages over bean-bag type of launchers, the biggest being accuracy.

Unlike the Sage Launcher, bean bag launchers use gauge rounds which unfold into bean-bags as they are fired.

"The bean bags can change course very easily," he said. "There have been cases where the bag didn't open either. When the bean bag does not open they can actually penetrate the chest cavity and even cause death. You just don't see the same sort of problem with the Sage Launcher."

Various projectiles can be fired from the Sage Launcher, Price said. The most common is a rubber baton which is meant to deliver a powerful blow that would temporarily incapacitate an assailant.

Others include one with a disintegrating tip that delivers OC (pepper spray) or CS (tear gas) powder.

"It's just a good tool to have in your arsenal," Digby said. "I don't think the sheriff would have sent us here today if he didn't plan on purchasing a couple of these weapons."

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