CANTON, Ohio – Just weeks away from the Republican National Convention, officers across the area are working to prepare for anything.
That includes the use of pepper spray which will be in their arsenal in the event they need to use it to disburse unruly crowds.
Pepper spray, or OC, is made for law enforcement agencies in a formula not available to the general public. But anyone can buy pepper spray in stores for personal protection.
It is possible that someone in a crowd may try to use the spray on police officers, or that when they use the spray themselves that the officers can become exposed to it.
While they cannot fend off the unpleasant physical impact of pepper spray it is important for them to be able to cope with it psychologically and continue to do their job.
“Basically it’s a, an officer is exposed or cross-contaminated during a scuffle they know they can work through it psychologically,” said Matt Schaefer of Tactical Defense Training Incorporated, one of the sponsors of a training session in Canton on Tuesday.
During the session, several of the training officers were intentionally exposed to the spray.
They immediately had to mimic fighting off an attacker with their eyes burning and the effects of the spray in their noses and throats.
Just as important, they had to learn to decontaminate, a process that representatives of Cleveland based Mace International Incorporated say can take between 15 and 45 minutes.
“There’s various situations where an officer could be contaminated with OC so we feel that its very important to have these live fire demonstrations where they are being hit with the pepper spray and then they are having to work through certain scenereos,” said Doug Melzig, of Mace Inc.
“That’s the whole reason we do this in law enforcement is to train for it, should they get exposed should there be cross-contamination or unfortunately there’s a lot of professional protesters who buy products and try to use them against law enforcement,” said Schaefer.
The hope is that the officers will not have to use the spray at all during the RNC but they will be prepared.