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It burns!

Boys don’t cry… until they are hit in the eye with some pepper spray. That’s (not) going to leave a mark.

Male deputy trainee being sprayed with pepper spray.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Golden, CO Fall DC Academy, 2018

Let’s set the scene. You are in your twenties (thirties, forties, whenever this dream catches up to you), you dream about being a cop, catching the bad guys while having clever repartee between you and your partner. You bring in the perp and everyone high fives you as you walk in the door. Very Brooklyn 99. This is a dream day on patrol but how did you get here? You went to the the academy.

Okay, that’s cool. You get to shoot guns, wrestle people to the ground and slap some cuffs on them - who wouldn’t like the academy? Then your instructor begins talking about less-lethal options. Not nearly as cool as shooting guns at paper targets but you can get into this. Or so you thought. To truly understand less-lethal weapons, you need to gain experience by working through the pain. You are instructed on when to use these weapons, the body’s response to them, and how best to deploy them. Then you are lined up across from someone with this weapon and BAM, right in the eye.

Now, this sounds painful enough to me, I mean seriously, I can’t even function when an eyelash falls into my eye, let alone something intended to cause pain and copious amounts of tearing up, all while gasping for air. Oh no, you get sprayed and then you have to sprint to the mannequin that you have to battle - all to demonstrate that you can continue to defend yourself in spite of the pain.

Deputy trainee attacks mannequin after being pepper sprayed.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Trainee advances to first obstacle after being pepper sprayed.

The whole time your instructors are barking instructions at you. Then onto the baton attack, still feeling as if your face is on fire and your eyes are glued shut yet simultaneously leaking tears. You then get to the live one, commanding them to get down while you have your training gun (no kids were actually harmed here folks, this gun does not shoot) pointed at them.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Trainee completes the final obstacle for pepper spray training.

You have to be strong, in command but the whole time you actually just want claw your eyeballs out.

You have commanded the perp to lie down and now, through burning/blurry vision and sense of touch, you have to capture their wrists and handcuff them. You feel victorious, like wrestling a steer to the ground and tying their legs together to win first place. This is AWESOME! Now, son-of-a-biscuit, can someone grab me the hose so I can flood my eyes with water?

JeffCo Sheriff's Office, Golden, CO, Trainee cleans out his eyes after completing the pepper spray obstacle course.
Ahhhh! Water has never felt so good! JeffCo Sheriff's Office, Golden, CO, Trainee cleans out his eyes after completing the pepper spray challenge.

Just one more day closer to your dream - let’s try not to do this again.

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