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Pepper Spray Unsafe?

COPWATCH, a citizens' group in Berkeley, CA, has noted an increase of in-custody deaths, and has pointed to pepper spray as possibly causing or contributing to those deaths. According to Berkeley Police Department Captain Doran, however, police officials consider pepper spray a safe alternative to firearms and an indispensable tool in subduing suspects.

"Officers are often confronted with violent, dangerous situations," said Doran. "Until something else comes along, pepper spray is an important tool in subduing a suspect who might otherwise be a danger to officers or bystanders. We're pretty comfortable that it's not harmful to human beings." He cited an FBI study to back up his claim.

Special Agent Thomas Ward oversaw the FBI Firearms Training Unit at Quantico, Virginia, for several years. Under his direction, the Training Unit produced the 1991 "Quantico Studies," which declared pepper spray a safe, effective weapon for police use.

On February 12, Special Agent Ward pled guilty to accepting $57,000 in kickbacks from Luckey Police Products, which manufactures one of the most widely used brands of pepper spray. FBI officials are trying to determine how badly Ward distorted the pepper spray studies.

The American Civil Liberties Union recently called on Attorney General Janet Reno to rescind all studies tainted by Special Agent Ward and to warn police departments across the country not to rely on FBI pepper spray research.

Source: Copwatch Report

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