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Pepper spray: An unreasonable response to suspect verbal resistance

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The paper presents data on street trials held with pepper spray in four police forces in The Netherlands and compares these with other research findings, specifically with regard to the safety and effectiveness of pepper spray and the position of pepper spray in the use-of-force continuum. There is little doubt that the use of Oleoresin Capsicum can be a real bonus in situations where suspects have some sort of impact weapon or are violent. However, designating pepper spray as the preferred option in situations where suspects are verbally resistive seems unreasonable and could even be seen as a form of abuse. The solution to safe and responsible police interventions in potentially dangerous situations should not be sought one-sidedly in technology, but also in improving tactical and technical skills of police officers.

Keywords: Force; Police; Spraying; Violence

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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