Oleoresin Capsicum Spray
Oleoresin Capsicum spray, also known as OC or pepper spray, is one of many tools in the Probation Officers’ quiver to ensure the safety and security of the youth, the staff, and the public.
There are confrontations in juvenile Probation facilities every single day that could escalate into a serious event….and sometimes they do. Most are stopped before they get started.
If there is a physical confrontation – a fight or an attack – the Officer must take action. Without OC spray, the only other way to deal with the confrontation is “hands on,” which is likely to lead to real injury.
Physical force is a last resort. Before the OC Spray is utilized, the officers – who are constantly on watch, assessing the environment and interaction between the juveniles – use a myriad of de-escalation tactics, including verbal instructions, separating individuals, one-on-one interventions, triage to mental health services, etc.
However, there are times when these tactics do not work and a fight or riot breaks out (and sometimes, the fight is a planned diversion for another dangerous situation).
In these instances, in order to protect the youth, the staff, and the civilian treatment providers who work in the institutions, the officers use de-escalation tools to establish, maintain, and restore order. The tools include the officers’ voice and professional demeanor, trust, empathy, and authority as peace officers.
The tool of last resort is OC spray and – if all else fails – hands on.
When OC spray is utilized, the officer must file a report and explain the circumstances leading up to the use of OC spray, the who, what, why, when, where, and how it was used.
To the best of our knowledge, there has not been a single instance of youth reporting bodily injury due to OC spray; however, there are countless reports of broken arms, damaged eye sockets, and so much more due to physical altercations that we were unable to stop.