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Deterrent Effects of Oleoresin Capsicum on Assaults Against Police: Testing the Velcro-Effect Hypothesis

NCJ Number
Police Quarterly Volume: 1 Issue: 2 Dated: 1998 Pages: 1-20
R J Kaminski; S M Edwards; J W Johnson
Date Published
20 pages
This article reports on a study that attempted to determine whether the use of oleoresin capsicum (OC) deters assaults on police officers.
OC, or "pepper spray," has been widely adopted by law enforcement agencies in the United States for use during resistive and forceful encounters with suspects. However, there have been few rigorous evaluations of OC and no empirical research on its utility for deterring violence against police. This study expanded previous research by employing a quasi-experimental design, the interrupted time series, to test whether the introduction of OC into the Baltimore County, Maryland, Police Department deterred assaults on police officers. OC had a statistically significant deterrent effect, reducing assaults on officers an average of approximately 3.2 per month. The reduction in assaults may, in turn, reduce the number of injuries to both officers and suspects, as the application of OC may prevent some encounters from escalating to higher levels of force, adding to the appeal of OC as a force alternative. Figures, table, references, notes