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Less-Than-Lethal Technology Assessment and Transfer: Pepper Spray Case Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1995
165 pages
This report presents a general framework for evaluating the effectiveness and assessing the risk of police less-than-lethal (LTL) technologies, using pepper (or OC) spray as an example of how the methodology can be applied.
The study surveyed manufacturers regarding product design, effectiveness, safety, training programs, and testing. From this survey a model Buyer Comparison was constructed. OC spray case studies and field trials were identified, collected, and reviewed. Other study activities were electronic searches of medical and toxicity databases for information on OC spray toxicity testing and therapeutic use; consultation with LTL panel of experts regarding preliminary findings and risk-reduction approaches; development of criteria for LTL technology of product evaluation from an operational and engineering perspective; analysis of what is known, not known, and should be known about the use and effects of OC spray; and review and evaluation of training and policy guidelines to generate a model for developing use and training guidelines. In its risk assessment, this report presents findings and identifies concerns regarding whether OC sprays are safe as purchased and used by police/corrections officers, whether they are effective, whether OC spray devices are used correctly by authorized personnel, whether OC sprays are acceptable to the public, and whether the risks are manageable. One of the concerns expressed in the report is that there is no documented or well-researched information to support a substantive statement regarding safety or dose safety margins; this prevents establishing appropriate warning labels, high-risk groups, and post-use procedures. Appended supplementary information

Date Published: January 1, 1995