The Police Chief of the LaGrange (GA) Police Department is training his officers to shoot for the legs, pelvis or abdomen in situations where they think it could stop a deadly threat without killing the source of that threat. Doing so, he believes, could make a difference in the more than 200 fatal police shootings nationwide every year that involve individuals armed with something other than a gun.

“Every time we avoid taking a life,” Dekmar says, “we maintain trust.”

The chief’s “Shoot to Incapacitate” program has drawn interest from academics who say it merits further study. In the national law enforcement community, however, it has elicited harsh, widespread criticism.

The department began training its 94 officers in February, the Washington Post reports.

In late September, the town had its first police-involved shooting since the training began. Officer David Horseman, 29, confronted a man wielding a machete downtown, first firing his taser and then, when that proved ineffective, raising his gun in his other hand and firing.

According to the department, the man was hit in the abdomen and legs. Horseman remembers targeting his pelvic area and planning to “walk” the bullets up toward his chest as needed. “He fell to the ground before I got to center mass,” Horseman said, “and that’s essentially what saved his life.”

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