skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 148882 Find in a Library
Title: Facts About Oleoresin Capsicum Sprays
Journal: Law Enforcement Technology  Volume:21  Issue:5  Dated:(May 1994)  Pages:32- 35
Author(s): E Nowicki
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 4
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The use of Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) (pepper) aerosol sprays is explored.
Abstract: According to this article, the use of OC sprays has led to a growing body of misinformation about the safety of these sprays and what they can and cannot do. This article, in a question-and-answer format, presents the most frequently asked questions about OC and its uses together with answers provided by various law enforcement, medical, and legal experts. According to John Granfield's study, with assistance from Dr. Charles Petty, professor of Forensic Science and Pathology at the University of Texas, 22 of 29 deaths that involved the spraying of the victim with OC spray, were the result of factors other than the OC exposure. (The other seven victims did not supply sufficient information for evaluation purposes.) A copy of Granfield's study, Pepper Spray and In-Custody Deaths, conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) for the National Institute of Justice, is available by writing or calling the IACP at the address and phone number provided in the article. Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions include that OC sprays can cause temporary corneal damage, similar to inflammation caused by hair spray. An officer must consider whether he or she is in fear of imminent death or great bodily harm before using deadly force when confronted with a a subject's threat to spray the officer with OC spray. OC sprays should not be considered a replacement for the baton, but rather as an additional nonlethal force option. All OC aerosols must meet Federal environmental guidelines; however, officers need to remember that some contain alcohol and should not be used in conjunction with electronic stun guns and TASERs. OC aerosols work on most, but not all, people and attack dogs. There is no one best, most effective OC spray pattern to use in all situations. There is an increased recovery time for higher OC percentage sprays. A credible argument can be made that officers should be sprayed with OC aerosol during training so that, should it be necessary, the officers can testify in court that they know what it is like to be sprayed and, should they be sprayed by an attacker, will know how impaired their defense capabilities will be.
Main Term(s): Police
Index Term(s): Chemical irritants; Computers; Less lethal technologies
Note: *This document is currently unavailable from NCJRS. Question and answer format
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.