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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 149368 Find in a Library
Title: Pepper Spray
Journal: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin  Volume:63  Issue:5  Dated:(May 1994)  Pages:24-26
Author(s): J C Hunter
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 3
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
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Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
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NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
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United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Report (Technical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Advances in nonlethal neutralizing agents, notably oleoresin capsicum or pepper spray, help police officers control subjects without resorting to physical confrontation or deadly force.
Abstract: While some police departments have equipped their officers with pepper spray, other departments have been slow to embrace the alternative. Pepper spray gives police officers an added degree of flexibility at two critical points in the force continuum, before they make physical contact with subjects and after initial physical contact but before the introduction of hand-held weapons. Pepper spray is gaining endorsements throughout the law enforcement community because of its versatility and effectiveness. The spray is an organically based inflammatory agent derived from the essence of cayenne peppers. Its ingredients are generally 90 to 95 percent inert, making it safe for use at very close range. Pepper spray causes considerable tearing of the eyes, as well as temporary paralysis of the larynx which causes subjects to lose their breath. Contact with the face causes a strong burning sensation. After exposed to the spray, subjects' reactions become reflexive in nature. They immediately cover their eyes and bend over into a defensive posture to avoid further contact. This reactive behavior allows police officers to control disorderly subjects more effectively. Effects of pepper spray generally last about 20 to 45 minutes and leave no residual effects. Like any weapon, however, pepper spray is not risk-free, and at least one death has been attributed to it. Still, compared to batons and tasers in marginal use of force scenarios, pepper spray generally represents a more acceptable level of force. The relatively low cost of pepper spray and the need for police training in its use are discussed. 3 endnotes
Main Term(s): Police equipment
Index Term(s): Chemical irritants; Police use of deadly force; Science and Technology
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