06-02-2009, 02:43 AM #1
- Join Date
- May 2008
Pepper Spray (Gel or Foam) thoughts
Hello, (long story but the main question is in bold at the end)
I’m a security shift supervisor at a mall in AZ. I’m looking for thoughts on gel vs. foam pepper spray. We currently carry pepper spray in a “cone” pattern. Well we had a fight recently (a couple of kids hands-on no weapons) that drew a crowd as is normal with the high school kids we see (who never leave when told, but are rarely a problem). When my guys moved in to break them up the smarter of them stopped, and sat on a bench nearby, the dumber started running his mouth and try to get the crowd to turn on my officers. He then proceeded to take a swing and hit my officer. His partner ordered the kid to the ground; kid was noncompliant and took a step toward the other officer who then give him a good blast straight in the face with his OC (within our policy for use of force). My guys cuffed him and the other kid to prevent either from fighting any more, provided care for the one sprayed and both went to jail when the cops got there.
Now the problem lies with the fact that when the officer used his OC some of the crowd got a little too (2 teens), even though they had been told to move on and leave when the officers first got there. One teen stayed and the officers washed off his face and we haven’t heard from him. The other went crying to mommy as soon as it happened. Now his parents are pissing and moaning to the mall manager and the security director that my officer was out of line.
I’m standing behind my guy 110%, and as a result the mall director has instead we use only pepper sprays that will have very little chance of getting anyone else.
I really see the only choice as a gel or foam spray. What is the difference between gel and foam? Is one better then the other?
06-02-2009, 05:55 AM #2
Ok, my first question: is the OC issued by your employer (the mall/security company) or is it your own? The reason I ask is liability. If you are issued one thing and choose to carry something else, you may open yourself up to personal liabiliity. I know you said your Security Director told you to carry something different, but that may just be their way of "passing the buck" so to speak.
My second question: are you at an indoor or outdoor mall? I'm an OC Instructor and one of the things we look at when determining the appropriate spray pattern is the environment it will be used in. Indoor environments are tricky because of the enclosed area. Most likely anyone in the general vicinity will be contaminated. Outdoor environments are also complicated because of weather issues, namely the wind. I'm guessing this was the case in the incident you described.
Now, personally I don't recommend gel or foam. In fact, we as a company have completely discontinued using it. We found it wasn't as effective on subjects and in rare cases, could be scraped off by the subject and thrown back at the officer(s). If you are working in an outdoor environment, my recommendation would be a stream pattern. It's a more direct, concentrated shot and is generally our choice for outdoor applications.
Ultimately the decision will rely heavily on your management/policies. Although I understand the parents frustration, they need to be more concerned with why their child failed to remove themselves from the situation as it escalated. Your Director/mall management are looking at this from a customer service standpoint more than anything. In my opinion, the use of force was justified and if the unintended victims had walked away when ordered to disperse, they never would have been hit with the overspray.
Last edited by SoCal Public Safety; 06-02-2009 at 06:00 AM."Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" -Matthew 5:9
06-02-2009, 12:58 PM #3
This is always a problem. Regardless of the type of OC Spray that you use there will always be a risk of cross contamination.
IMO your best bet would be to switch from a fogger to a stream projector. They are more target selective provided that your officer is a good shot with his OC.
As for the kid that was cross contaminated... as much as it sucks he should have moved when your officers instructed him to do so. His mom may not like it but as long as its supported and documented that the officers instructed the crowd to disperse and move on, there isnt much of a case for her idiot child being cross contaminated after ignoring a lawful instruction from your officer.
Are you required to purchase your own OC or is it company provided? From a liability standpoint, as and officer or member, I would strongly suggest that you have your employer purchase what they deem to be "acceptable" after a review is conducted and issue it accordingly to avert your officers having any kind of personal liability based of the brand and type of OC projector.
06-02-2009, 03:47 PM #4
- Join Date
- May 2008
It's issused spray and we're an indoor mall (though this happened at the entrance, which during the day has the doors wide open). We have their training record, so their good to good if it came to court.
As a supervisior, the director of security give me this task of finding a better one other then our "cone" spray for them to buy (it wasn't a fogger, this is what I was using when I said cone http://galls.com/defspray5.html).
Personally I don't feel bad for the kid and frankly it was all his fault for not leaving. I'll have to check and see and if the director will go for a stream.
What gets me as a supervisior the most is that the mall manager is mad at my guys because some punk kid was in the wrong.
Last edited by cacband; 06-02-2009 at 03:50 PM.
06-02-2009, 04:54 PM #5
- Join Date
- Oct 2005
Last edited by bigdog; 06-02-2009 at 11:18 PM."Get yourself a shovel cause your in deep Sh*t"
06-02-2009, 05:07 PM #6
Number 1 - Client management will ALWAYS go where the money is, which means you will be wrong every time. However if the use of force is justified, well documented and within policy there's little that can be done. That doesn't say the officer won't get kicked in the teetheven if he/she was in the right. Nature of the biz....
Number 2 - I have used both foam and gel in healthcare settings and it works well; no cross contamination and very little particulates put into the air (which is an absolute no-no in hospitals and nursing homes). Contrary to popular belief both work well in thier intended roles - there is no inhalation of product, but there usually never is anyway (usually secondary). However the coverage and discomfort level is very high, even if the subject wipes it off, he/she still ends up rubbing a lot of it in causing a LOT of discomfort. Decontamination is also expidited as you can see where you need to rinse.
I think that for special situations - such as healthcare setting and malls - foams and gels have a very important place in the force continuum."Lawyers, Guns and Money"
"Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he's too old to fight, he'll just kill you."
06-02-2009, 09:34 PM #7
We use foam at work, since it's what our federal contract mandates. I've never seen anyone (and we've sprayed our fair share and then some) wipe it off and throw it back. It melts almost instantly, and burns a hell of a lot stronger and quicker than regular stream (I got the foam for our re-qualifier).
I think it's the Sabre stuff.July 1st, 2006, 0300 hrs- Sighted drunk; detained same. NFE.
06-06-2009, 10:06 PM #8
- Join Date
- Jun 2007
I guess I am fortunate. I carry Freeze +p and have only had to use it in a crowd once, at a bar, I am sure I sprayed a few that weren't intended, but again, it was a bar and everyone was drunk and forgot on the way home. My OC instructor warned us against the gels, etc when I was trained due to the aforementioned danger of the gel being thrown back in the officer's face. I do not know much about them, but that does seem like a reasonable side-effect...