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Oleoresin Capsicum: Pepper Spray as a Force Alternative

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 1994
7 pages
This report examines the use of oleoresin capsicum (OC) as a force alternative.
The report explains what OC is, describes its effects, benefits, and limitations; provides objective information to help make informed purchasing decisions; and provides names, addresses, and telephone numbers of OC manufacturers and other sources of information. OC, also known as pepper spray, incapacitates subjects by inducing an almost immediate burning sensation of the skin and a burning, tearing, and swelling of the eyes. When it is inhaled, the respiratory tract is inflamed, resulting in a swelling of the mucous membranes lining the breathing passages and temporarily restricting breathing to short, shallow breaths. In most cases no special decontamination procedures are required, and it is biodegradable. In confrontations with subjects under the influence of PCP, OC is the best option short of a lethal weapon. The report includes suggestions on training officers in the use of OC, and discusses medical and legal issues related to police use of OC. Notes

Date Published: May 1, 1994