Whenever I am either taking or teaching a pepper spray class I always hear at least 10% of the class comment that the reason they have to get sprayed is so that everyone knows how it feels like so that no one abuses the spray. That might not be the exact words used, but the idea that security or law enforcement has to feel the pain caused by pepper spray so they don’t become abusive annoys me. Lets answer the question “Why Do I Have to Get Sprayed or TASED in Training”
First off, if this is true, why stop with spray – let’s shoot all the police when they are in training… I mean – if a police recruit learns firsthand what a .40 to the chest feels like, they won’t be tempted to shoot the wrong person…
Secondly, if a police administrator has to use pain to create empathy and prevent abuse then they hired the wrong cadet – retained the wrong cop, and need some serious revisions to their policies.
There are two reasons someone that carries less lethal sprays or tasers need to experience them in training (and one is a minor reason).
Law Enforcement/Security personnel may need to be able to testify that they have an intimate understanding of the effects, and by being able to say they have been subject to the effects themselves, they can show that while painful, less lethal options are much more preferable to baton strikes or bullet hits. Personally I don’t worry about that – I am not an administrator and don’t concern myself with what a lawyer would say about my actions. Frankly I would not use force unless it is needed, and am not one to use more physical force than I would need to control a situation.
The true reason I want my students to get sprayed in training is for their own protection. I have NEVER been in a fight involving spray that either I or someone on my team did not get exposed. Sprays tend to cross contaminate anyone near the fight. If you have never been sprayed, you will not know how to react to being sprayed. In my OC spray instructor certification, not only did we get sprayed, we had to find the door back inside the classroom, find a box near the door, dig through it to find a handcuff key, confront and control a hostile subject, subdue and handcuff them, double lock and then unlock the cuffs, and then find our way to the restroom where we could finally decontaminate ourselves.
After that, I know that if I have to fight someone after being sprayed, I will be able to. I know I can take someone down and handcuff them, even if I myself am half blind from OC spray.
This matters because I also know that spray is not some wonder tool that ensures compliance, I know how effective tasers are, but also how fast I can recover from one after being hit – I know that they require a solid hit to work. In short, by experiencing the force option personally, I grow my own confidence in my ability to work – while gaining personal knowledge of the weakness of the particular system.
In the end, I guess the “we are getting sprayed so we know what it is like” is true on some level – unfortunately the words may be the same, but the difference in perspective is gravely different and engender two different mindsets and end results.