Whether in favor of or against the police force, nobody can deny that this job is a force to be reckoned with. With objects such as a police dog, taser gun and OC spray (pepper spray) at their arsenal, police officers are more than threatening enough to maintain their authority. From the officer’s perspective, however, deploying these weapons may be uncomfortable enough for any people to turn down the position of a police officer. What’s worse, any officer that has a license to these weapons must conduct Taser/OC Spray training on thrmselves. In other words, to use these weapons, the officer must be exposed to the taser and pepper sprayed by being tased/sprayed themselves. This has lead many people (even those pursuing to position) to ask; is this training really necessary? Through a brief analysis of this training and an example of this training not being conducted, we at TREMG seek to answer this question.
An anonymous officer discusses his experience in the academy: “Around the eighth week of training, [our officers] were required to undergo exposure training to both tasers and OC spray. Two officers held me down while another officer pointed a taser to my lower leg and shot the probes for about 5 seconds. I was encouraged to fight off the pain with all my might.”
The officer continues, “It was horrible. My muscles completely gave out and I was ready to collapse to the floor. It felt like wasps were crawling through my skin. However, once the taser ceased fire, the pain was gone completely. The two officers pinning me down were very supportive and helped me recover after a few minutes.
The officer then discusses the OC spray test, “[The officers] shot pepper spray in both of my eyes separately then required us to complete an obstacle course, even opening my eyes at some points to get the full effect. We could not rub our eyes otherwise we were disqualified. The spray washed out any water from my eyes and the stinging sensation almost left me paralyzed. For me, it’s worse than the taser as the pain is lasting.
The officer later describes the obstacle course itself. “First, [the officers] made us open our eyes to spray the eyes of a makeshift dummy. Then, we were required to punch a small punching bag about 10 times without missing. After weaving around a line of traffic cones, we then had to open our eyes again to an officer who was holding either a knife or a gun. We had to look at which weapon the officer was wielding and sat ‘Drop the knife’ or ‘Drop the gun’. After the course was completed, we finally got to flush our eyes out with water from a garden hose”.
From the officer’s description, this experience may sound like torture and practically illegal to many. However, let us analyze this description through a very well-known and very important murder case; Derek Chauvin and George Floyd. As many of us well know by now, a white officer by the name of Derek Chauvin had murdered a black suspect named George Floyd by suffocating him with his knee for about 8 minutes while Floyd continued to plead the officer saying “I can’t breathe”. According to reporter Libor Jany, despite Chauvin’s taser found a traffic stop, the officer had never undergone taser training which is why he, instead, choked him with his knee. However, the method of which Chauvin murdered Floyd is irrelevant. Because Chauvin had never received training, he did not understand his boundaries of authority. He did not comprehend the gravity of a police officer and the weapons at his disposal. Without proper training, it is likely that likely many officer may abuse their power through misunderstanding and ambiguity.
To answer the question “Is taser/OC spray training really necessary?”, our response is a resounding “yes”. It is absolutely needed to understand the true effects of weapons such as tasers and OC Spray. If Chauvin was disciplined better, there is a higher chance that Floyd would still be alive today. Exposure training may be miserable, but it’s the ground work to prepare officers for the job and it reminds officers to only deploy these tactics when necessary and with the minimal amount.