Pennsylvania State Troopers Discover that Pepper Spray Hurts People

It matters because it hurts them, too.


"My eyes! I'm not supposed to get toxic substances in them!"

Apparently it didn't bother Pennsylvania's state police that their pepper spray hurt people who were not police officers. But once they discovered state troopers were not magically immune to the effects it became a problem. WPXI channel 11 reports:

Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle has learned that state police officers will no longer be allowed to carry pepper spray.

Earle reported that the decision came after several cadets suffered injuries during a training exercise. The cadets reportedly suffered eye injuries after exposure to the defense technology MK-4 pepper spray.

"A recent training exercise revealed that this pepper spray presents a significant risk of causing eye injuries to subjects who are exposed to this product," said state police Trooper Maria Finn.

Now it's possible they're referring to a particular brand of pepper spray being more dangerous and damaging than others, but they're really just figuring this out? Isn't this sort of training through exposure common for cadets? State police used pepper spray during a riot at Penn State last November over Joe Paterno's firing, so it's not like they were treading new ground. Granted state troopers may not need to call on force as frequently as municipal police departments might, but the Pennsylvania State Police website offers all sorts of training services to these other departments. It's a bit remarkable that they didn't know the full impact of the tools they were using before they started using them.

But if that's what it takes to get police to realize these "less-than-lethal" tools don't mean "not dangerous – please use whenever somebody pisses you off!" then so be it. Though it may result in an increase in Taser use, and there have been plenty of terrible outcomes from the application of that tool as well.

(Hat tip to Eric Boehm of the Pennsylvania Independent)

NEXT: Arrests, Injuries in Spain Riots

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  1. Anyone wearing jorts and a wife beater knows they’re running the risk of being pepper sprayed, and deservedly so.

    The LEO I know all get certified, yearly I think, on using pepper spray and tasers. That seems to involve them getting pepper sprayed and tasered.

    1. Pepper sprayed and tasered under controlled circumstances. Let them catch a taser and fall face down on concrete like they make citizens do.

      1. Oh, and taser them 10 or 15 times, while being beaten, too.

    2. Any chance of certifying them the same way for firearms?

    3. You know LEOs, fist?

      You’re dead to me.

  2. The cadets reportedly suffered eye injuries after exposure to the defense technology MK-4 pepper spray.

    Pussies. That’s the same stuff I spray on my buffalo wings.

    1. Old Mex and Homer Simpson…separated at birth!

      Marge: Mmm. Homer, give me my pepper spray!

      Homer: Oh, Marge, one squirt and you’re south of the border! [eats something] Mmm…… incapacitating…[eyes water]

      1. You’re just saying that because you’re jealous of my mouth-watering… and eye-watering… and bowel-loosing… buffalo wings!

        1. “Hurts as much on the way out as on the way in!”

  3. “Granted state troopers may not need to call on force as frequently as municipal police departments”

    Since they usually work alone and without close back up, I would imagine they would move to force even faster than the local cops. The KSP used to stress that it’s troopers were 20 minutes or more from back up.

    1. These are *state* troopers – I imagine a significant amount of their work day is speeding tickets, tagging vehicles left on the side of the highway, and spot-checking truckers with a bit of responding to accidents and helping stranded travelers.

      I would think that these guys deal with aggressive people so rarely that it hasn’t sunk in yet that they can get away with smacking around anyone who talks back.

      1. Due to a number of historical reasons, the county sheriffs in Pennsylvania are largely restricted to court services, which means the State Police is the only police force in any place that doesn’t have a full time municipal police force (which is 60% of the municipalities in the state), so they probably see more aggressive people than the average state trooper.

        1. Yes, and in many parts of the state they might be a long way from backup. I don’t know about 20 minutes from backup like the KSP, but some parts of PA are rather isolated.

  4. State police used pepper spray during a riot at Penn State last November over Joe Paterno’s firing, so it’s not like they were treading new ground.

    I’m not sure why you brought this up, as an actual car-flipping, setting-things-on-fire riot seems to be a legitimate time to use it, as opposed to one unarmed civilian is annoying me.

    1. I wasn’t trying to posit that it shouldn’t have been used there. I was simply trying to show that pepper spray wasn’t a new tool for them.

    2. If you want to create a riot out of a crowd, pepper spray is a good way to start riling them up.

  5. “A recent training exercise revealed that this pepper spray presents a significant risk of causing eye injuries to subjects who are exposed to this product,” said state police Trooper Maria Finn.

    ANY liquid that you squirt into someone’s eyes has the potential to cause injuries, from mild to severe. This is nothing new.

    What I am seeing here is, potentially, the preliminary steps towards the banning of all civilian products for self-defense: “Oh, it caused injury on a few jack-booted goons! Oh, Gawd!”

    Just wait and see.

    1. Boiling water/oil will ruin the day of a thug in body armor.

  6. I pretty much hate cops. /standard libertarian disclaimer

    I think cops should use the old-fashioned club as a “non-lethal” weapon.
    Then there is no pretending they are doing anything other than hitting someone with a stick. Too many people seem to think tasers and pepper spray are some sort of harmless high tech tool. Everyone understands what getting hit with a stick is.

  7. Wait a minute! We’re on to something here!

    Force all cadets to have their homes swat raided with flashbangs! At some point, the police union will declare these things hazardous… see where I’m going with this?

  8. I’ve been pepper sprayed 4 times and tased twice. it sucks. the more muscular you are, the better the taser works, since it works via neuromuscular incapacitation (NMI) btw.

    Imo and from what i have seen, tasers have been GROSSLY overused. there are a # of factors why. first, both policy and case law had to “catch up”. policy was written too loosely as to when tasers were justified. also, tasers, as the new toy… some cops, sad but true, were itching to try it out in the field

    fortunately, case law (especially mcpherson which i have cited) has reigned in taser use. Dept . policies have also gotten more strict. McPherson even stripped the cop of qualified immunity. The scotus later restored it , though.

    when used properly. and imo and ime the vast majority of the time, tasers and pepper spray are used properly, … tasers and pepper spray are wonderful tools and (i know amnesty international will have a cow) are humane. among other reasons, for officers who are , frankly, weak as shit, pepper spray and tasers are a big help, and in this peecee society, you won’t see PD’s establish REALISTIC strength and fitness standards. sad, but true.

    1. Some of th most bad-ass cops i’ve worked with have been women, but also let’s get realistic, a 5’0 110 lb soaking wet female officer, who has never lifted a weight in her life needs these tools, in those RARE (and i have provided those stats) circumstances when cops deploy them. again, cops use these tools rarely (tasers having gotten better, and i’ve provided those stats).

      and let’s also remember, small women can be VEARY VERY strong. this woman, former olympian and a teammate of mine, is stronger than the VAST majority of men in society, and on a lb for lb basis, is stronger than 99% of them at least.

      tasers offer a wonderful “voluntary compliance” tool. i have seen at least a dozen times in the last year, guys who REALLY wanted to fight the police voluntarily submit to handcuffing when an officer pulled out their taser, pointed the laser on their chest and told them they were going to comply or they were going to get tased. situations like that ensure neither cops, suspect(s) or bystander are hurt, whereas in years past they were.

  9. better alt text : “Ze googles! Zey do NOTHING!”

  10. But if that’s what it takes to get police to realize these “less-than-lethal” tools don’t mean “not dangerous ? pl

    Get with the times. It stopped being “less-than-lethal” and became “less lethal” years ago to folks in the know. Liability, and all.

    1. and accuracy, too! even a punch in the nose can be lethal.

      1. “Cool, he can teach us how to kill a man with a lunch tray!”

    2. Can’t they just make the riot cops wear sandwich board warning labels to shield themselves from liability?


      1. get some for the perps too. goose, gander, and all day

        “Warning: I suffer from malnutrition. I have been on a 2 week meth binge and am severely dehydrated, electrolyte depleted, have a combination of nonprescribed dangerous drugs coursing through my bloodstream, have stage 2 hypertension, suffer from obesity and i’ve slept 3 hrs in the last 60 hrs. i will fight and resist until the adrenaline dump combined with all the other stuff going on will result in excited delirium and death… but it’s the taser’s fault”

        1. If tasers aren’t safe to use against people whose health makes it more likely for them to have cardiac events, wouldn’t that mean that they’re not safe to use against anyone over age 50?

          Because I have to tell you: if a laptop maker made laptops that gave people electric shocks that incapacitated them, and people who were dehydrated or tired or on prescription medication had heart attacks and died following getting these shocks, the company wouldn’t be able to assert that the computers were safe because the shocks didn’t kill their triathlete test subjects.

        2. Changed your “open mind” yet about tasers causing electrocution? Sloopy came up with a link as well.

        3. Victim-blaming: Dunphy style.

          You really are loathsome.

        4. For all of us peons, it is well established that we have to take our victims as we find them. You think cops should be the beneficiaries of a double standard?

  11. It’s WPXI, not WPKI. And Rick Earle is the John Stossell of Pittsburgh TV. You should watch his expose on the director of the Pittsburgh Visitors Bureau making over $300,000 a year and then claiming it was OK because out of towners spend a few million dollars a year in Pittsburgh, so it was “a bargain”.

    Pretty sure the out-of-towners are coming here for the Marcellus Shale, Steelers, Penguins, and Pitt/CMU, not because of his rinky-dink bureau.

  12. Granted state troopers may not need to call on force as frequently as municipal police departments might …

    … but you can be damn sure they’ll go ahead and use force whether they need it or not.

  13. Hahaha stupid cops, serves them right.


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