Is PepperBall a Patrol Tool?


Tactical Sling


We all know the benefits having a non-lethal alternative to lethal force in our force options toolbox. PepperBall™ is an alternative that in many agencies has replaced the need for other less-lethal options utilized by police and sheriff’s departments.


The question arises as to where PepperBall™ should be deployed within law enforcement agencies. Most agencies start by placing new tools with specialty units like SWAT until their utility is proven. They then expand the potentially life saving tool into patrol. Other agencies place the tool in the hands of patrol sergeants or crowd control teams. These units need and can use PepperBall™.


These deployment schemes are necessary but have a major flaw. PepperBall™ is also a patrol tool. PepperBall™ is most effective when the patrol deputy or officer is faced with the deranged husband or boyfriend that is drunk or emotionally upset to where he causes a confrontation with the police. People in their emotionally charged state often arm themselves with available weapons, a stick, a 2X4, a kitchen knife and even a firearm.


The best way to resolve a spontaneous incident like this is to take the person in custody as quickly as possible so that he cannot arm himself better, so he doesn’t get more adrenaline built up from his emotions, so he cannot barricade himself and so he doesn’t have to continue to resist to save face in front of his loved ones, friends and neighbors.


How long will it take to deploy your non-lethal PepperBall™ System if it is in a supervisor’s car or with a swat team? It generally won’t be available to use to resolve these type incidents. The incident will be resolved before those support people get in place. Often it is resolved using deadly force by the deputy or officer.


PepperBall™ has been used for many other types of patrol incidents such as an unarmed person that has hidden under a house or in an attic, a group of car strippers, or the person barricaded in his automobile on the side of the road, a large party or disturbance, etc. These incidents can be handled by patrol with the proper tools. If a deputy waits for SWAT the incidents often time escalate into a major incident. Dealing with a small incident swiftly and safely usually prevents large incidents. We have all seen the momentum in crowd when an agitator is allowed to continue his ranting and raving.


If your supervisor deploys PepperBall he loses his position as a supervisor and becomes another participant in the action. Supervisors should supervise those that use PepperBall™. The sergeant should be making sure that the deputies or officers are using their non-lethal PepperBall™ correctly.


We trust our patrol level forces to carry and use less-lethal and lethal force; we should also trust them to carry non-lethal tools like PepperBall™.


The cost in human misery, investigations, worker’s comp and litigation over one incident where a patrol officer has had to shoot a person described above is much more than the cost of outfitting and training patrol officers to use PepperBall™. The community support most departments have been getting after they have saved someone’s life by not shooting them when they legally could have been invaluable to an agency. Agencies need to recognize their deputies or officers when they show proper restraint and save a life by not shooting a suspect. The culture of saving lives is well established in most progressive agencies throughout the world.


If you haven’t placed PepperBall™ Launchers in patrol you should reexamine your deployment strategies. The PepperBall™ Systems will help establish the culture of saving lives by making a non-lethal tool that has proven effective over and over again in many well thought of agencies.




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