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Pepper Spray Reduces Complaints Of Excessive Force

Wednesday 10 May 2006

Pepper Spray Reduces Complaints Of Excessive Force

“The Union representing Fishery Officers is urging the Government to allow them to carry retractable batons and pepper spray to extricate themselves from dangerous situations,” said Martin Cooney, Organiser of the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) today.

He was commenting on the controversy over two recent incidents where complaints have been made that individual Police Officers have inappropriately used pepper spray.

“The introduction of Pepper Spray to the NZ Police provided deterrent value with considerably reduced assaults on Police, said Martin Cooney. “Further, when the spray was actually used, it allowed Police to deal with alleged offenders in a controlled manner without getting into a physical combat role - and actually reduced overall complaints against Police of excessive force.”

“The retractable baton is unobtrusive and easy to carry when not being used, but very effective in keeping an offender at bay while the spray takes effect or help arrives,” said Martin Cooney.

“There is an international ‘Scale of Force’ for Police where the lowest form of force is Communication (Talking) and the highest is Deadly Force (Firearms),” said Martin Cooney. Currently Fishery Officers are trained to use Communication, Unarmed Combat and the Carotid Hold, along with speed cuffs. On the ‘Scale of Force’, OC Spray and batons are actually rated lower (more acceptable) than the last two options in which Fishery Officers are trained. The use of Martial Arts and the Carotid Hold are slotted immediately under Deadly Force.”

“NUPE members went on strike in 2004 to gain the right to properly defend themselves while withdrawing from incidents when being attacked on isolated beaches by poachers with weapons and high on P,” said Martin Cooney. “The matter was referred to a Cabinet Committee which promised to reply but never met on the subject.”

“Pepper spray and retractable batons are defensive tools. Officers are or will be, trained to use them to defend themselves or others or to extricate themselves from a position of risk when all other less forceful means at their disposal have failed,” said Martin Cooney.

“Given the risks of open handed combat on ships or wharves, the pepper spray provides lower risk to the alleged offender as well as the Fishery Officer.”


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