The Origin of Pepper Spray

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kamran Loghman, who helped develop the use of pepper spray for law enforcement and who helped write guidelines, discusses how pepper spray should be used and how the original intent differs, in his opinion, from how police at UC-Davis used pepper spray. Plus, a few of our listener researchers add what they found.


Kamran Loghman

Comments [32]

QLineOrientalist from Brooklyn

بارک الله کامران خان
خوب گفتید
شما واقعا *آدم * اید
از شما سر بلندیم
Thank you for interviewing Kamran Loghman. He's a real gentleman. I'm proud of him.

Nov. 29 2011 11:18 PM
Leslie from Sacto

The way they should have handled it is by having a plan. A demonstration on a campus, even with passive resistance, is routine, not rocket science or anything new. Campus police should be:
1. Very comfortable with their knowledge of state laws, case law, department policy, professional standards and guidelines, AND the larger context of the situation.
2. Experts! They handle more demonstrations than the average municipal police. How hard is it to develop a plan for each potential contingency? Passive resistance is not new, and there are techniques police are trained in that can be applied to make arrests on people who are passively resistant.
3. Command and control: who's in charge? The lieutenant shouldn't be spraying (unless he's under direct physical threat, which he was not;) he should be commanding, that's why he gets paid the big bucks!
Go to the end of the line of kids linked together. Tell one kid, you're under arrest, let go of the arms. When they don't apply your passive resistance training, apply reasonable force, i.e. pain compliance techniques to elicit voluntary compliance, handcuff, and depart.
One At A Time.
By the time you get to kid #3, kids #4,5,6,and 7 will decide they don't want to go to jail, and they will comply.

Nov. 29 2011 07:43 PM
Margaret from UWS Manhattan

Just a note: a bear can't go the ER, or apply any salve, or apply water effectively. Not to claim a human must martyr themself to a bear, but there must be a better way.

Thumbs up to Constance, Kim, and Amy.

Nov. 28 2011 06:09 PM
Harrry from NYC

Strychnine is a "food product". Curare is a "food product". Tetrodotoxin is a "food product". Bungaro toxin is a "food product". Digitalis is a "food product". All from edible plants and animals. (If you like to eat snakes - that would be bungaro toxin.)
Ignorance is a misery - for everybody.

Nov. 28 2011 02:03 PM
popejon from Ridge, NY

john from office, I'd like to see how harmless you feel pepper spray is after getting a face full of it. Rubber bullets might not be so bad... And news flash, police abuse has been around a lot longer then U-tube. Does March 7th, 1965 ring a bell?

Nov. 28 2011 11:56 AM
John from office

40 dead in Eygpt is equated to some smart mouth college students with runny noses and red eyes, now I understand.

Nov. 28 2011 11:47 AM
Constance from Upper West Side

I write the series for the online magazine, Slate, called Revolting Creatures. am at work right now on tarantulas. It was recently discovered that the venom of the West Indian tarantula, and probably its American desert cousins, contains capsaicin, the same ingredient that makes jalapenos and other peppers stingingly hot-- and the main ingredient in pepper spray. Tarantulas are loathe to use their venom, trying other defensive tactics first. The spider will first try fleeing back into its burrow, and if that isn't possible, it lets fly with urticating hairs. These are Irritating little hairs the spider brushes off its abdomen into the face of a predator, usually a bird or a lizard. The effect is mild irritation. Skunks, by the way, are also loathe to go nuclear.

Nov. 28 2011 11:42 AM
Kim from Harlem

I was a little appalled by this segment. The guest was great, but the "slam"--and by extension the segment--was basically three people who work in the weapons industry taking on one very smart woman armed with social media.

The basic issue isn't really whether pepper spray is a food, terrible in every case, etc., but about the escalation of crowd control tactics used against peaceful civilians in the U.S. Seemingly since 9/11, there has been an increase in military style tactics by the police. Even Longham makes the point that the spray was developed to use against people who were out of control --physically violent because of drugs, adrenaline, etc. Somehow that has morphed into it being used against anyone who dissents in public.

How about a segment on that?

Nov. 28 2011 11:42 AM

@ Peter from Durham, NC

Great observation. Totally agree.


Nov. 28 2011 11:35 AM
Jeffrey Kawalek from Maplewood, NJ

Kudos Brian on your pepper spray segment-your info-slam was terrific, especially the female contributor, who supplied informative and enlightening data, and especially the Pepper Professor who was obviously SO informed and expert, perhaps the single most expert "expert" I have heard on any show. Congratulations and thanks from a dedicated listener.

Nov. 28 2011 11:34 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Police officers already know if they have health conditions that would make it dangerous to undergo pepper spraying to qualify for training. They have no way to know if civilians they use the spray on have such conditions, which are probably more common in the general population than among those who pass the police physical, so how can its use be justified for anything other than stopping someone who's actually a threat?

Nov. 28 2011 11:33 AM

@fuva from Harlemworld

How about, NOTHING?

Nov. 28 2011 11:32 AM

... not to be confused with the Imbecile from Greenpoint...

Thanks for the entertainment gentlemen!

Nov. 28 2011 11:31 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

What I have never heard -- in all the UC Davis coverage -- is an explanation of how the police SHOULD have handled the situation.

Nov. 28 2011 11:28 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

@ john from office

What a ridiculous theory

Nov. 28 2011 11:28 AM

imbecile from office

Nov. 28 2011 11:27 AM
david from peekskill

The slam was a bust but here is some good info:

Nov. 28 2011 11:26 AM
peter mitchell from NYC

In the 1970s, pepper spray was used on us at Peoples' Park in Berkeley. It was sprayed from helicopters and by foggers on jeeps which tore down the streets.

Nov. 28 2011 11:25 AM
Phil from Park Slope

UC Police are state police, like the highway patrol. They can carry weapons, detain people, arrest people, beat people with batons, etc, lust like any other police in California.

As a student at Berkeley I witnessed many many incidents of extreme violence against peaceful protestors on the 90s, but it was before YouTube so it never made news.

Nov. 28 2011 11:23 AM
john from office

People want the cops to use rubber bullits and Batons, so their videos will be more heart wrenching. Lets ban the non lethal spray for some skull fractures

Nov. 28 2011 11:23 AM
Robert from NYC

I guess that the students couldn't be stopped and uncontrollably sat on the ground would allow the police to rationally use pepper spray on these uncontrollable sitters!

Nov. 28 2011 11:21 AM
erica from manhattan

To compare the use of pepper spray against a mugger or rapist -- an attacker out to harm your person or your property -- to the use of it against a peaceful demonstrator is apples and oranges, big-time. Really, Brian?!

Nov. 28 2011 11:21 AM
Amy from Manhattan

People can't breathe for a few minutes after being sprayed? I hope Wayne just meant they have *difficulty* breathing, because actually not being able to breathe for that long could cause brain damage or worse. And his description of waiting after spraying the eyes for people to open their mouths & then spraying it into the mouth actually shocked me. It sounded as though the person was already disabled by the 1st spray, so why do a 2nd one in the mouth?

Nov. 28 2011 11:19 AM
José Díaz Hernández from Allendale, NJ

The listener that claims that pepper spray can't be used in a combat context is wrong. We used it quite often in prison riots at Abu Ghraib when we were stationed over there. She needs to check her facts. Also, I've been sprayed and she is dead wrong about long-lasting effects. Not a pleasant experience for about a 4-hour period, but nothing major.

Nov. 28 2011 11:15 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

sooooooo...the guy who sells it to the cops is saying it is "harmless"...biased much? Is this still the self-deception segment?

Nov. 28 2011 11:15 AM
Robert from NYC

This segment gives misleading information. Two guys who sold it?

Nov. 28 2011 11:14 AM
john from office

So, instead of pepper spray, to move people who are unwilling to move, we should use the night stick??, It would make for better Utube videos. ??

Nov. 28 2011 11:14 AM
David from Greenpoint

Police pepper sprayed students who refused to move out of the way. If they had obeyed the police demand to "move out", then they would not have sprayed. I don't want people disregarding police for their personal reasons, even in mass. Our police have a difficult and dangerous job that must not be violated so that we don't turn into an uncontrollable society, such as in Mexico, which we seem to be tending to.

Nov. 28 2011 10:48 AM
J M Stifle

It is very dangerous, according to Scientific American

Nov. 28 2011 10:46 AM
Stephen from prospect heights

Some sources:

Corneal abrasions associated with pepper spray exposure
The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, Volume 18, Issue 3, May 2000, Pages 271-272
Lance Brown, Darren Takeuchi, Kathryn Challoner

A fatal case of pepper poisoning Original Research Article
Forensic Science International, Volume 124, Issue 1, 15 December 2001, Pages 43-46
Tracy Snyman, Michael J. Stewart, Vanessa Steenkamp

Capsicum spray injury of the eye
Sujata Das, Atif Chohan, Grant R. Snibson and Hugh R. Taylor
International Ophthalmology, 2005, Volume 26, Numbers 4-5, Pages 171-173

Nov. 28 2011 10:45 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I don't have time to participate, but I hope someone will look into this: I heard somewhere on WNYC that pepper spray can cause dangerous reactions in people w/certain health problems. Which people should stay out of situations that could lead to getting pepper-sprayed because of health conditions they have?

Nov. 28 2011 10:40 AM
Peter from Durham, NC

I have watched with great concern the videos of pepper spray being used by police officers on Occupy Wall Street Protestors. What concerns me the most is that it appears that the pepper spray is being used in a punitive manner that is bordering on torture. My understanding is that pepper spray is intended to be used for defensive purposes only. But it appears that pepper spray is being used to inflict pain. The police may say it is to enforce compliance, but it appears to be punishment as well.

Just like with Egypt, I am wondering if President Obama or state governors will need to call in the military to protect peaceful protestors from punitive and violent police actions. I am also wondering if police officers who witness other officers use pepper spray in what appears to be an illegal matter (such as at UC Davis) are breaking the law by not stopping their colleagues from the misuse of pepper spray.

Nov. 28 2011 10:12 AM

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