In order to carry pepper spray on a daily basis at a prison in my state, you first have to be exposed to it. While it might initially sound really mean to make all DOC employees experience the cruel, blinding burn of pepper spray, the state requires exposure for legitimate reasons. First, the department of corrections wants to make sure that you aren’t allergic to the chemicals. Second, it is an absolute certainty that pepper spray is used in prison settings. Whether you are in the middle of the fray or you just accidentally walk through the outskirts of the mist, the department wants to ensure that you can operate effectively while experiencing the negative effects of the demon juice.
Now, I am not a huge fan of spicy foods. The mild sauce from Taco Bell has been known to make me tear up, so you can only imagine what a face full of OC did to me. All 100 of my classmates and I lined up single-file outside of a tiny, little brown shed. In groups of four, we entered the shed. Upon entering, our training instructors filled the shed with OC. It was stifling. My eyes instantly started tearing up, and I was involuntarily coughing left and right. While in the shed we had to shout loud, repetitive instructions to a fake offender as we aimed our own individual cans of OC at an outline of a person on one of the shed walls. After our training officers were satisfied with our performance, we rushed out of the shed and had to successfully demonstrate knee strikes on a training mat. Our instructors said that rubbing our eyes would make the burning worse, so I made sure not to touch any part of my face. While I didn’t get direct exposure, I got enough to know that any amount of pepper spray is bound to be a pretty unpleasant experience.
Until next time! Mintern, over and out.
P.S. Special note to all the guybrarian readers out there: A few dudes in my training class didn’t wash their hands after exposure… Let’s just say that they were in more than a little pain after our first restroom break following exposure.