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The Ohio Department of Youth Services last month approved the use of oleoresin capsicum spray, or OC spray, and body-worn cameras by officers, following a “contained barricade incident” at the youth correctional facility in October and another incident at a separate location in Indian River the same day, in which a department worker was assaulted by an incarcerated juvenile and taken to a hospital.
Department Director Amy Ast in a Friday, Dec. 30, memo to workers acknowledged that the use of pepper spray is “a significant shift” in department practices, but stressed that it would only be used in certain situations:
In response to imminent physical harm to prevent serious injuries to youth or staff;
To prevent escapes;
To enforce security rules to prevent a serious disruption or threat to security;
And to prevent the destruction of state property.
Its use will be limited to certain administrators and managers, along with other “select staff,” according to the memo.
“OC spray will never be used as a form of punishment, and all incidents involving its use will be reviewed by multiple agency administrators,” Ast wrote. “In addition, all youth in an incident involving OC spray will receive immediate medial assessment, treatment and monitoring to minimize any side effects, as well as follow-up engagement by our behavioral health staff.”
The department’s body-worn cameras are expected to be rolled out “along the same timeline,” it reads.