Does pepper spray, oleoresin capsicum, the active ingredient in chili peppers, which is as potent as 1000 jalapeno chilis, promote violent behavior? Think about it. Would you retaliate after being sprayed, after being rendered temporarily blind, after suffering skin blistering, and more? This is the conclusion from the LA Supervisors, who have issued a “phased elimination” of its use in Juvenile Detention Centers – despite more than 75% of detainees have violent charges and previous arrests.
Their concern is that pepper spray sets in motion adversarial conditions between officers and detainees. It’s like pouring gasoline on fire. Probably true, but what’s the solution? One side claims pepper spray is the only solution preventing all out warfare between sides in heavily cramped conditions. Yet, the guards say they have not received proper training in violence management and resort to the ‘spray.’
Meanwhile, officers are caught having to control out-of-control situations that spark at a moment’s notice. Pepper spray is a quick solution, leaving the victim “traumatized,” while “undermining the relations with the officers charged with their rehabilitation,” states Matt Stiles, LA Times. L.A. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas comments, “This is Los Angeles County. “We boast of being enlightened…”
In two months, pepper spray will be disallowed. At that point, will the detainees knowing about the ban, accelerate confrontations? Will officers feel their defense is blocked? Or will both sides come to terms and say, “Hey, we’re in this together – kumbaya!
Time will tell, but pepper spray will be out – banned! As it stands, the looming threat of pepper spray keeps officers safe and when used, keeps violence at bay. But, are the detainees safe and what will happen when mayhem occurs, and crowds again develop in the detention halls? Will two months be enough time for the re-training of these officers? Any takers for the job of juvenile officer?