Police are under a microscope like never before in the history of law enforcement. Law enforcement Officers are seen in action more than ever before, and they are seen much sooner. There has been a great deal of debate both tactical, legal and practical regarding the use of force. One of the overall best resources an officer routinely carries and employs all too seldom is Oleoresin Capsicum, better known as Pepper Spray.

There are always exceptions, but the majority of law enforcement agencies accept the use of Pepper Spray to be between empty hand control, and lethal force within the use of force continuum. There will be circumstances in which the baton, CED and firearm are necessary, that being said many police confrontations can be better addressed by the use of Pepper Spray by a competently trained officer.

The use of Pepper Spray has some major principle advantages. It is inexpensive. It is lite weight and can be used one-handed. It rarely if ever has residual effects on those it is affected by it, this includes both subjects and officers. To the uninformed, it looks much less offensive than shocking, striking or shooting a subject. Neither the use of illegal drugs nor the mental state of the individual stops Pepper Spray from being effective.

Exposure to Pepper Spray causes an involuntary closing of eyes, temporary effects breathing and motor control. Once in custody, the effects of Pepper Spray can be mitigated with the use of decontamination sprays and wipes. Pepper spray devices come in a variety of concentrations and form factors, which allow them to be deployed effectively in a variety of environments and situations.

Other effects regarding Pepper Spray should also be considered. Because Pepper Spray is considered less than lethal an officer if properly trained, is more likely to use Pepper Spray when appropriate rather than escalate to lethal force. The area of effect of pepper spray is relatively short ranged and can be broad if deployed properly. This frees the officer from having to consider backstop issues, and if need be can be used on multiple subjects very effectively. When using Pepper Spray against multiple subjects the term “pray and spray” takes on new meaning.
One effect of Pepper Spray that is often overlooked is that many sprays are colored bright orange or red. A subject that has been sprayed can be identified by the Pepper Spray residue left on the skin and clothing. This residue can be seen as well as smelled for a short time after exposure. This can be of huge benefit, if the subject tries to flee into crowds, or comes into contact with other officers in the area.

There are some disadvantages to the use of Pepper Spray that officers should keep in mind. In an area with high winds or air flow, the spray may become less effective, shorter ranged and cause unintended exposure to others. While Pepper Spray is inside the effective range of most police encounters, it is not a universal fix for every confrontation.

The primary effects of pepper spray alone should make it the next logical step in the use of force once open hand control is ineffective, or is inappropriate. It is less likely to cause lasting harm to the subject, it is less to cause lasting harm to bystanders, it is less likely to cause negative litigation and public opinion.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Robert Schwenk

Robert Schwenk

Robert Schwenk began a law enforcement career by joining the U.S.Army's Military police corps in 1982.Over the course of his career, Schwenk graduated from four separate police academies, two investigative courses and numerous certificate and training programs.Schwenk served as an armed officer, with arrest powers with five separate law enforcement agencies. In 2009 Schwenk retired from federal service due to a medical disability.Schwenk currently has interests writing, consulting, investigating and internet services and security.
Robert Schwenk

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