Only in the twisted minds of NYPD officials would “more powerful weapons” be a solution to prevent their officers from killing people. Sadly, this is no joke. The NYPD recently announced that they are planning to stock more powerful and potent pepper spray, and they actually claim that this would be intended to prevent police from shooting people.
The potency that has been used by the NYPD and other departments previously is already highly dangerous with a concentration of just .21% capsaicinoids. The new spray will be concentrated at .67% which will undoubtedly be more dangerous and far more painful. The NYPD has already begun rolling out the new concentration and has equipped over 19,000 officers with the new mixture.
NYPD Deputy Chief, Edward Mullen, claimed in an interview with the Daily News that a higher concentrated pepper spray would help officers subdue unruly suspects more easily.
“A more effective pepper spray can help reduce the amount of force needed to gain control of a suspect or emotionally disturbed person,” Mullen said.
Mullen also noted that NYPD officers have been learning to use pepper spray less, claiming that NYPD officers only used pepper spray 284 times, which is down from 337 the year before.
However, this attitude places all of the responsibility on the suspect and none on the officer. In most cases where officers shoot at people, they are not actually in danger but are in pursuit of a suspect who might get away. Officers would rather take a shot at someone who is running, than let them escape and avoid a drug charge and that is where the problem lies, not in the officers ability to “take down” a suspect.
The new plan to stock high-potency pepper spray has been opposed unanimously by activists and human rights organizations.
“Given that excessive force is all too common in the NYPD, we are concerned about officers having more powerful pepper spray,” Christopher Dunn, associate director of the New York Civil Liberties Union said.
Lawyer Ron Kuby supported these statements, pointing out that, “It’s not properly used, and it’s deployed somewhat promiscuously at people the cops don’t like.”
Joshua Moskovitz, another lawyer who represents many activists said, “I’m sure there are occurrences where pepper spray is useful and has been used in an appropriate manner. I’ve only seen it in a way that exacerbates the situation.”
This is not just an issue in New York either – over the years, departments across the country have been making their pepper spray more intense. The strongest pepper spray in the country is used by the Suffolk County Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Boston Police Department, each of them using a pepper spray with a potency of 1.33%.