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NCJ Number: NCJ 195739     Find in a Library
Title: Effectiveness and Safety of Pepper Spray
  Document URL: Text PDF 
Author(s): Michael Bowling ; Monica Gaines ; Charles S. Petty
Date Published: 04/2003
Page Count: 19
  Series: NIJ Research Report
  Annotation: This report presents the findings from two recent unpublished National Institute of Justice funded studies that used different methodologies to test pepper spray’s safety and effectiveness in real-life arrests.
Abstract: Pepper spray or oleoresin capsicum (OC) is used by law enforcement and corrections agencies across the Nation to subdue dangerous individuals. This report summarizes the results of two unpublished National Institute of Justice (NIJ) funded studies on the safety and effectiveness of pepper spray in real-life arrests and compares these studies with prior studies. The intent of this report was to broaden the scope of knowledge relating to pepper spray and for law enforcement policymakers and practitioners, defense and prosecution attorneys involved in pepper spray cases, as well as medical examiners. Claims of pepper spray’s effectiveness were tested in three North Carolina police jurisdictions, before and after the pepper spray was introduced. Results of this study found that the number of injuries to police officers and suspects declined after pepper spray was introduced. In addition, complaints regarding the police used excessive force declined. The second studied 63 cases of in-custody deaths following pepper spray use in hopes of determining the role played by pepper spray. Results of this study indicated that pepper spray did not cause or contribute to death in 61 out of 63 cases. Also, pepper spray was not found to be effective in any of the cases of position asphyxia and its precise role could not be determined. Study limitations are discussed and include: (1) in the North Carolina study, procedures for identifying officer and suspect injuries differed from agency to agency and over time with each agency; (2) in the in-custody deaths, the identification of trends was difficult due to the pepper spray used in the arrest process being very low; and (3) each arrest situation is unique making it difficult to near impossible to collect enough identical arrest scenarios.
Main Term(s): Oleoresin Capsicum (OC)/Pepper Spray
Index Term(s): Crowd control ; Police effectiveness ; Riot control agents ; Less Lethal/ Nonlethal Weapons ; Riot control ; Lawful use of force ; Chemical irritants ; Legal liability ; Police weapons use ; National Institute of Justice (NIJ) ; NIJ grant-related documents
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
US Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
United States of America
Grant Number: 1997-LB-VX-K018; 2001-M7-56
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/NCJRS
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Country: United States of America
Language: English
Note: NIJ Research for Practice
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