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NCJ Number
Lawman Dated: (Summer 1992) Pages: 21-26
Date Published
6 pages
Oleoresin capsicum (OC) is a product based on cayenne pepper that can be used safely and effectively by police personnel to incapacitate violent and resistant offenders without causing injury to the suspect or unacceptable risk to the police officer.
Unlike other chemical irritants, this is one product that lives up to its advertising. First marketed in the 1970's, OC produces immediate closing of the eyes, a burning sensation to the skin, involuntary inflammation of mucous membranes, coughing, shortness of breath, and gasping. Psychological effects may include a feeling of helplessness, fear, and panic or anxiety. The effects wear off in about 45 minutes if untreated, or sooner if the person is washed off with soap and water. Three companies currently manufacture the product. A variety of studies and tests, including one in which the FBI exposed more than 800 agents to the spray, have confirmed the effectiveness of OC. Liability concerns have related to the general use of aerosols and the specific carriers, such as alcohol, used for OC products. All police officers who use the products should receive training regarding its appropriate use; some agencies require that police officers be sprayed before they carry it. Photographs and list of dealers