Magazine article Security Management

A Pepper Pinch

Magazine article Security Management

A Pepper Pinch

Article excerpt

Training is critical to ensure the safety of security officers and to reduce potential corporate liability for improper employee behavior. To give students the information they need, courses must be realistic, but is turning the weapon on the trainee taking the learning process too far?

No one would use deadly force against a trainee; however, nonlethal weapons are another matter. Some experts in Oleoresin Capsicum (pepper spray) Aerosol Training (OCAT) say that security officer trainees should be exposed to the substance.

Pepper spray, also referred to as OC, is an inflammatory agent made from cayenne pepper. When sprayed in a person's face, it immediately incapacitates the subject by causing a severe burning sensation on the skin and inside the nose and mouth. It also causes coughing, gasping for breath, and watering eyes.

Some experts argue that OC training is greatly enhanced if each trainee is sprayed directly in the face to experience the pepper's power. "The primary purpose for doing this is to make sure that every officer who carries the agent is aware of what the agent can do and understands its effects--knows that they are short term and not lethal," says George Raposa, project manager for Burns International Security Services at Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Rowe, Massachusetts.

Raposa also says that administering the agent builds the officer's confidence in it. He explains that security officers who carry a nonlethal weapon must have absolute faith in its effectiveness. The only way to gain such assurance, he believes, is to feel the weapon's strength firsthand.

Roland Ouellette, president of REB Security Training, Inc., of Avon, Connecticut, adds to the list of reasons that officers should be sprayed directly in the face. "I think [officers] are going to have a lot more compassion for people," he says. Many times, when officers administer OC, they expect the target to respond to commands, explains Ouellette. Since that person is temporarily incapacitated, he or she may not respond, and an officer may take inappropriate action. "The officers feel the individual is not responding because they don't want to respond, but basically they are totally diverted," says Ouellette. Once security officers have been sprayed, they understand the reason for the target's behavior.

Both Raposa and Ouellette point out that direct exposure to the inflammatory agent during training also teaches officers how to act if they are exposed to the substance in the line of duty. …

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