Exposed During Training


Tactical Sling



The issue of whether we should expose police officers to non-lethal chemical agents during training is asked often. Usually in conjunction with Oleo Resin Capsicum or OC . As often as it is asked we get different answers. After retirement I have had the opportunity to talk with agencies from around the world and the debate still rages on. The answer to the question seems to depend upon a decision maker's familiarity with the non-lethal agent their department carries. The more familiar the decision maker is with non-lethal chemical agent the more likely they will be to insist on an officer being exposed to the agent they carry.

If an agency has some "whining crybabies" they are likely to not insist on an exposure. We all have those people among us. The "whining crybabies" mantra is always, "I carry a gun and I don't have to get shot". They obviously don't make the distinction between a lethal tool and a non-lethal tool.

Taking a realistic look at the situation there are reasons for and against exposing your officers. Any decision should be made upon fact and not rumor, innuendo or the bellowing of your "whining crybabies". Non-lethal chemical agent only works on a person when two conditions are present. The first condition is the physical symptoms caused by the agent itself. In most cases that symptom manifests itself as a burning sensation on the skin, lungs and the eyes. A feeling that it is hard to breath usually accompanies the burning. The second condition that must be present is the feeling of alarm or fright that causes a pause in combat. The person needs to stop focusing on you or his illegal activity and think about what is happening to his own body. When that happens the officer wins.

The officer then has time to maneuver and place the suspect under physical arrest. When an officer uses a non-lethal chemical agent he will probably get an exposure to the agent himself. This type exposure is usually called cross-contamination. If the officer has never been exposed to the chemical he may not realize what is happening to him and panic.

If he panics he may lose a fight with the suspect. Losing a fight can be fatal. This scenario has already happened all across the country. When an officer is exposed in training he becomes familiar with the effects of the agent he carries. If during that training the officer is tasked with performing a law enforcement function, like handcuffing someone, he learns that he can not only survive but that he can still function and continue with his task at hand.



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