How Hot is Pepper Spray?

June 20, 2007

A word about pepper spray effectiveness:

As you know, there are many self-defense sprays on the market today. Pick up a few packages, and you will see that their effectiveness is advertised and presented in a few different ways. Of course, common sense tells us that what really matters most is “how hot is the pepper spray that hits the attacker?” In marketing the effectiveness of their pepper spray products, some manufacturers stress the amount of OC (Oleoresin Capsicum shown as a percentage) in their spray. Others stress the SHU (Scoville Heat Unit) value of the OC contained within the spray, or they use a combination of the two. We believe that neither method is a completely true and accurate measurement of effectiveness.

This is why:

The OC percentage is, simply put, the percentage of OC contained within the defense sprays formulation. A spray that advertises a “10% OC” content simply contains 10% OC (active ingredient), and 90% inactive ingredients. What this percentage does not tell you, however, is the potency, or “hotness,” AFTER it is blended with its inactive ingredients. Stressing the SHU (Scoville Heat Unit) value, or “potency,” of the OC is another measure used by manufacturers. This value is simply the strength of the OC before it is diluted in the remainder of the solution. Sure, the OC in a spray may come from peppers with a 2,000,000 SHU value, but what percentage of the final formula actually contains OC?

Bottom Line?

Neither the OC percentage nor the SHU rating are accurate measurements of the strength of the formula inside a can of pepper spray! Simple math would tell you that a 10% OC formula manufactured from a 2,000,000 SHU strength OC should yield a spray with a 200,000 SHU. Unfortunately, chemistry is not that simple of a science. While advertising the simple math is not necessarily an outright lie, it is very misleading. The only true and accurate way to measure a spray’s potency is to measure it AFTER it leaves the nozzle. This is why our producer had other sprays independently tested and rated on how they perform when they leave the can, not on what the base formulation is before it is blended with other ingredients. That is why most of our pepper sprays advertises the actual “Nozzle SHU” of their defense spray – the strength of the spray after it leaves the nozzle. We also evaluated an independent lab test of the formulas of the competing sprays. Compared with what these other brands advertise, the results are surprising! We guarantee the strength of the spray when it leaves the can! We may just be your only self defense company that fully guarantees its OC spray heat rating. We realize that the safety of their friends and family were at stake with many of the other products. That is why we distribute a line of new defense spray formulations that you, your friends and your family could depend on at any time. We are so confident in the effectiveness of our spray formulas, that we actually guarantee it, 100%.


Image Quality of CCD and CMOS Cameras

June 20, 2007

Staff Patrol offers two types of cameras, CMOS and CCD. It is important to understand the difference because cost and qualify are a big consideration in choosing a camera system. Each of our camera systems indicate the type of system used.


This type of image sensor is relatively inexpensive and offers a good quality image. The cost of this system is usually less and the overall system can be very economical. While CMOS sensors excel in the capture of outdoor pictures on sunny days, they suffer in low light conditions. Their sensitivity to light is decreased because part of the sensor is covered with circuitry that filters out noise and performs other functions. The amount of space on a sensor devoted to collecting light is called the pixel’s fill factor. The design of CMOS cameras creates a much lower fill factor and therefore they are less sensitive. CMOS cameras do have the advantage when it come to power consumption. Because there are less components in the camera board, it draws less power and will run longer if used on a battery. For general purpose viewing in good light, they are a good choice. If there are budgetary constraints, it’s possible to get more features in the overall system using CMOS cameras.


CCD cameras have a 100% fill factor and therefore offer a brighter and sharper image. Like most most electronics, this increased quality does add to the manufacturing costs. CCD cameras produce a higher quality picture mainly because the image sensor is used strictly for collecting the image and all of the other necessary processing is handled by other components on the camera board. CCD cameras on the other hand have more components and draw more power. This may be a consideration when using battery power.


These images are representative of the differences you can expect between the two styles of cameras. Individual lighting and other conditions will effect the actual image.



Bright Day Bright Day
Early Evening Early Evening


CMOS sensors offer average image quality in good light, have lower power requirements, and are substancially less expensive. CCD sensors offer excellent images in most lighting conditions, have higher power requirements, and are typically more expensive. Evaluate your needs in a surveillance system and we can offer you the best in either category.

Glossary of Video Terms

AGC – Automatic Gain Control is an electronic system found in many types of devices. Its purpose is to control the gain of a system in order to maintain adequate performance over a range of input signal levels. Or an electronic circuit that tries to keep the video signal at a constant level 1 (Ivolt peak-peak). Useful on cameras working at low light levels .

AI – Auto Iris is an electronic circuit that acts as an iris on CCD cameras by electronically shuttering the CCD sensor. Or an automatic method of varying the size of a lens opening in response to changes in scene illumination.

AWB – Auto White Balance is an electronic process used in video cameras to retain true colors. It is performed electronically on the basis of a white object in the picture.

CCD – Charged Coupled Device: It is analog technology. The CCD camera has a higher resolution than CMOS. The camera also functions better in low light. A CCD camera drains a little bit more power than the CMOS cameras. It typically uses 12v instead of 9v. CMOS cameras are smaller than a CCD camera and works longer with the 9v battery.

CMOS – Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor: A lower resolution camera compared to a CCD model. The advantage of a CMOS camera is that it uses lower operation current.

HAD CCD – Hole Accumulation Diode is a type of CCD sensor with a layer designed to accumulate holes (in the electronic sense), thus reducing noise level.

S to N Ratio – Signal to Noise Ratio is simply the ratio of the signal power and noise power, expressed in decibels (dB). Or a measure of noise on a video signal. It is represented in Decibels as the level of the video signal compared to the level of noise present on that signal. The higher the signal to noise ratio the better.

BLC – Balance Light Control is a method to compensate for bright spots in a picture. It is also important to consider whether there are bright spots in the picture such as car headlights which can make identification of the vehicle registration or model impossible. This can also be a major problem where it is necessary to identify a person who is moving from bright daylight into artificial light. This could result in the subject becoming an unidentifiable silhouette.

OSD – On Screen Display is a method of displaying set-up information or instructions on to a display monitor.

Resolution – Resolution measures the cameras ability to reproduce an image. The higher the resolution, the better the picture quality.

LUX – LUX is the measurement of low light needed for the camera to view and record properly.

FPS – Frames Per Second is the number of still frames (pictures) that give the illusion of motion, which appear in a single second of time. 3O fps is considered “Real Time”. So for Real Time viewing of your cameras, you need at least 3O fps for each camera.

IR – Infrared, IR LEDS are used on Day/Night cameras which allow the camera to see in the dark.

Focal Length – the distance from the surface of a lens and its focal point.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do hidden cameras work? A small board camera is built into an everyday item. The camera can be wired which means it is connected to the DVR or VCR using a cable. The camera can also be wireless, in this case the camera transmits a signal to a receiver that is connected to the DVR or VCR.

Can I get audio in my hidden camera? – No you cannot. According to United States federal laws, audio should not be used in a surreptitious manner. One example of surreptitious interception is audio in a hidden camera. This includes pinhole board cameras and all covert or hidden cameras; i.e., a clock radio. Audio in a hidden camera or board camera is only available to law enforcement agencies. Title 18, Section 2512.

What is the difference between a wired and a wireless camera? – Wired cameras have a video cable that runs from the camera to your recording or viewing device such as a DVR, VCR or monitor. Wireless cameras have a built-in transmitter that sends the video signal to a receiver. The receiver connects to your recording or viewing device.

How far can a wireless hidden camera transmit? – Standard wireless hidden cameras can transmit up to 1000 feet and high-powered wireless hidden cameras can transmit up to 2000 feet.

How many wireless cameras can you have in one location? – You can have up to four wireless cameras in one location. You can view all cameras at once using four receivers or you can use one receiver and switch to each camera. You will only be able to view one camera at a time if you only use one receiver. If you want to install multiple wireless cameras in one location it’s best to order them at the same time so that we can put them on different channels.

Will a cordless phone interfere with wireless cameras? – Cordless phones that operate on the 2.4 GHz frequency will cause interference with 2.4 GHz cameras. Interference should be minimal and usually occurs if the phone is between the camera and receiver.

What is a Quad? – A Quad splits your monitor into 4 sections allowing you to view 4 cameras at once.

What is a 2.4 GHz wireless frequency? – A frequency is used to transmit a signal or data like video. 2.4GHz is the specific wireless frequency that our transmitters use to send video signal to a receiver. All of our wireless cameras operate on the 2.4 GHz frequency. Range varies from 200′ to 700′ depending on environmental conditions. These units are FCC approved.

Are the transmitters FCC approved? – The transmitters used in all of our wireless systems are FCC and Industry Canada Certified.

What is CCD? – CCD is used in professional cameras because of it’s high resolution quality and it’s ability to record in low-light situations. CCD is basically a small silicon chip that receives light and turns it into voltage variations which makes up an image, it’s usually measured in inches with 1/3″ CCD being the standard. They are higher priced but are great for cameras that may require vision in near darkness.

Will a Quad allow four cameras to record at the same time? – Yes you can record all four cameras at the same time. You also can record using a switching monitor, which will record the camera that is showing at that moment.

Do the receivers work through walls up to two feet thick? – Yes as long as there isn’t excessive amount of metal in the wall.

Do the plug and play connections require extra wire to run the signal back to the VCR or TV? – Yes, you need to buy the length of cable you need we offer various lengths up to 100′.

What is the difference between a DVR and a VCR? – A Digital Video Recorder (DVR) system records high-resolution digital images to a hard disk drive (HDD) and eliminates the requirement of maintaining VHS tapes. Since the video images are stored digitally, the image quality will not degrade overtime, as would a VHS tape when recorded over multiple times. The time-saving search capabilities of a DVR will enable the user to locate the desired video clips via user defined parameters (camera, time, date, etc.) versus the fast forward and rewind functions of a VCR. A DVR can be accessed remotely from anywhere in the world using the Internet.

How many hours will a DVR record? – The amount of time a DVR will record for is based on the size of the DVRs hard drive, the number of cameras recording and the number of frames per second ‘ it is recording at. One camera recording in Real Time uses 1 GB per day. So a 16 camera system will use 16 GB in one day.

Do I need a VCR from you or can I use my own VCR? – You can use your own VCR for recording. However, the VCR will have to be recording all the time. Most VCRs can only record for about 10 hours but we have special VCRs that can record up to 1280 hours.

What is a DVR card? – DVR Cards enable the user to convert their computer into a Digital Video Recorder. The DVR Card(s) is typically installed in an available PCI slot of a computer. DVR cards are bundled with video surveillance software, which allows the user to record and display multiple cameras simultaneously from the camera site or a remote location.

What is a Plug and Play connection camera?
– It is an RCA Video plug and a power plug on the camera for easy connection to VCR or TV. This is done by running the RCA (Aux) line into the VIDEO IN of the VCR or TV. The TV or VCR must be set on the correct channel to view the VIDEO IN picture.

How many cameras can I hook up to one TV? – You can hook up as many cameras as your TV has inputs. Most TVs have 2 inputs but when using a quad you can hook up four cameras.

Do you need a VCR to record or will the cameras record? – You must have a VCR or DVR if you want to record.

Between what temperatures is it safe for cameras to operate in? – It is safe for B/W cameras to operate between -10F to +122F. It is safe for color cameras to operate between -10F to +104F. It is safe to store cameras between -22F to +158F.

What is the operating voltage of a camera? – Our cameras range from 9 volts (CMOS) to 12volts, and also 24 volt professional models.

What is a varifocal lens? – A varifocal lens is one where the focal length of the lens can be varied. This is a fancy way of saying it is a zoom lens. Most varifocal lenses have, and in almost all circumstances should have, an auto iris feature.

What is a fixed lens? – A fixed focal length lens cannot zoom. The focus is fixed. A fixed focal length lens usually allows more light to pass through the lens at a given focal length than a varifocal, or zoom lens. This can be important in low light situations.

Defend Yourself using Pepper Spray

June 18, 2007

Everyone should carry a defense spray wherever they go! If that sounds a bit drastic, just look at today’s newspaper or watch your nightly news. Unless you can predict the future, you should have some form of defense protection with you at all times. And an OC defense spray is one of the best protection devices available. Some people feel they only need a defense spray when going out at night. That could be a terrible mistake! Today’s criminals don’t care whether it’s day or night. No matter who you are, where you are, what you’re doing, or when you’re doing it you’re a target! You might ask if that sort of thinking is paranoia. The answer is no! A violent assault occurs every 17 seconds in this country. Carrying a personal-defense spray at all times is simply good common sense! Make sure you carry it with you whenever you leave your home.

How to Carry Defense Sprays

The American Security Institute recommends carrying the largest size defense spray that is practical and legal for you. Most 2-ounce sprays are about 4″ long and 1″ in diameter- small enough to clip onto a purse or a belt. If you find this size inconvenient or impractical, carry a key chain spray. The biggest advantage of the key chain spray is that you’re not likely to forget it. Unless you have no other choice, do not carry a defense spray in your pocket! Too often the spray cannot be retrieved quickly enough to do any good. Remember, most physical assaults occur very quickly, often giving the victim a second or two, at most, to react. As you’ll read later, there’s a way to handle this, but only if your defense spray is readily available. The other reason you shouldn’t carry the spray in your pocket is the possibility of forgetting it the next time you go out.

Purse Carry

For women, the obvious place to carry pepper spray is a purse. What is not so obvious is HOW to carry it in the purse. Don’t let the spray sit at the bottom of your purse. The time it takes to find and retrieve it can be all the time an assailant needs to overpower you or even steal your purse! Defense sprays carried in a purse should be clipped to the front end of an inside pocket, flap, or divider. Clip it so that the unit itself is inside the purse, easy to access, pull out, and use in a few seconds. You may consider holding it in your purse as you’re walking. A purse with a long strap slung over the shoulder is ideal for this purpose. An assailant just might hesitate if he sees you’re prepared to deal with someone just like him. A recommended alternative to carrying a purse is a small waist or “fanny” pack. The belt of the pack is ideal for carrying a defense spray and there’s little danger of a “purse snatch” attempt on the pack. A note of caution: If you do use a waist or “fanny” pack, don’t carry any defense spray in the open where it can be seen. You will lose the important element of surprise, (covered later), and it might even be stolen! Cover it up with a coat, jacket, sweatshirt, etc.

Belt Carry

If you’re going to carry the defense spray on a belt beneath a jacket or coat, attach the spray upside down. If you experiment with this, you’ll probably find it much easier to “draw” the spray downward off the belt, rather than upward. Also, if possible, position the spray in its holster so that when it’s grabbed and drawn, it’s already in position to use without having to turn it or rearrange it in your hand. Experiment until you can quickly draw the spray, raise it up, and shoot it in one fluid motion.

Practice Drills

Practice the same drill noted above, if you carry the spray in your purse. Keep in mind that you want to retain possession of the spray even if your purse is grabbed and yanked away. The spray should be positioned and clipped onto the purse in such a way that, when you have hold of it, any downward yank of the purse will allow the spray to come off in your hand. Anytime you’re on foot, such as walking to your car, leaving a restaurant, shopping, jogging, etc., alone or isolated; you should have the spray ready to use in an instant. Whether it’s attached to your purse or belt, or on a key chain makes no difference; have it ready! The time you may need to react to an assault may be less than a few seconds. It’s also very important to mentally rehearse exactly what to do in case you need to use the spray. Practice against an imaginary assailant until you’re comfortable with your ability to use the spray fast and effectively. This practice could make the difference between becoming a victim and surviving a hostile confrontation.

Developing Security Awareness

Developing security awareness, for the purposes of this handbook, is learning when to heighten your sensitivity to your surroundings. It’s knowing when to be ready to use your defense spray, and when to actually use it. The key to security is awareness. As we live our daily lives, we all have the tendency to focus on what’s happening at the moment and lose our awareness of our environment. Developing security awareness is nothing more than learning when to focus on our own safety. For example, when you’ve just left a restaurant with a date, your focus may be on the good time you’ve had, or anticipating the rest of the evening and not on your immediate safety. The problem is that in our increasingly violent surroundings, it makes us much more vulnerable to surprise attacks. Developing security awareness is nothing more than learning to focus on our safety at those times when we are even slightly vulnerable. Usually it’s when we’re walking alone, jogging alone, or doing anything that isolates us. Learn to think consciously about your personal safety when you’re isolated-even briefly-and get used to concentrating on what and who is around you and any potential threats.

A typical scenario is the walk from the shopping mall to the car. Concentrate on your packages and locating your car; now concentrate on who’s around you as you leave the mall. Did anybody follow you out? Turn around and look. Is there anyone hanging around the entrance as you leave? If so, are they following you? Are they attempting to stop you and ask the time, or otherwise delay you? Is there anyone in the area of your car, or sitting in a car near yours. These situations present potential threats you must be aware of. The most natural thing for us to do is “mind our own business.” We all tend to avoid eye contact. None of us wants to be accused of staring at someone. And yet that’s exactly what you must learn to do. Force yourself if you have to. Look at the people around you. How many are there? How close are they? In what direction are they moving? Are you vulnerable? Are you isolated? Are you a likely target? All too often, personal attacks take place as a complete surprise to the victim. In some circumstances, that’s unavoidable, such as an assailant jumping out from a hiding place. But in too many instances, victims are surprised because they don’t perceive the risks around them or their own vulnerability. The victim usually says something like, “They came from nowhere.” No they didn’t! The assailants came from somewhere, the victim just didn’t see where. Force yourself to look, and to see!

From Awareness to Defense

How do you know when you’re being assaulted? When do you switch from being aware and careful to being defensive? There are three criteria: distance, verbal assault, and physical assault. (The term assault is not being used in a legal sense here.) If any one of the three criteria are realized, don’t hesitate, use your defense spray! If you’re wrong you can apologize later. If you’re right, you just might save your life! If this sounds a bit like “shoot first and ask questions later,” it is. It may be a sad commentary on our modern society, but it’s also the harsh reality of the world we must live and survive in.


We all have a distance or buffer zone we put up around ourselves. This zone, and our comfort level when it’s intruded, varies with each situation. We usually have no problem with reasonable proximity of another person if we’re standing on a crowded bus or elevator. But that can change drastically if a complete stranger is suddenly the same distance away in a parking lot without a legitimate reason. In other words, the zone grows or shrinks according to the situation. The size of the buffer zone we create for ourselves results from our inherent survival instincts. When the zone is suddenly or blatantly intruded upon against our wishes or instincts, we experience the automatic “fight or flight” reaction. And in that reaction, lies the answer to when you should react with defensive countermeasures. A typical scenario illustrates how this works. A woman leaves a shopping mall carrying a large shopping bag and a purse. As she exits the door a young man loitering near the entrance asks her what time it is. She half turns, says, “About 4:15 I think,” and continues on towards her car in the parking lot. The distance, 15 feet, is enough in that situation to make the woman feel fairly safe under the circumstances. However, as the woman approaches her car she hears someone behind her. She turns to discover the same young man. Only this time he’s only about 10 feet away and walking quickly and silently toward her. Should she be prepared to use a defense spray? Absolutely! In the absence of any other information, she has every reason to believe the young man is coming after her; and every right to defend herself in the face of a probable personal assault. The key is whether or not the distance involved gives you any choice. If the distance is short, or being shortened quickly, react defensively; particularly if you’re isolated or even semi-isolated. Trust your internal instinct.

Verbal Assault

Verbal assault is another factor that determines if defensive countermeasures should he used. It can take the form of a threat, a demand, or indecent proposals or suggestions. Verbal assault in the form of demands and threats are a clear-cut case for using defense measures. If a mugger approaches you and says, “Give me your wallet or I’ll hurt you” that’s an assault. If a demand is made and the assailant shows a weapon, that is assault.. If a panhandler approaches and asks for a dollar for food, that’s not an assault. However, beware of panhandlers, particularly if you’re fairly isolated. Occasionally if you refuse their request, they may continue to bother you. As long as their pleas are requests, assault has not occurred. The moment they make a demand, try to block your path, grab you, or couple a verbal threat with any of these actions, assault is occurring and you should use defensive measures. Be very careful in the situation just described. Often a “request” is a test to see how you react and handle yourself. An assailant may be “sizing you up” prior to assaulting you. Or, he may be softening your natural defense instincts by making a nonthreatening approach. The same situation occurs with sexual assault. The assailant may start out by asking an innocent question (directions, time, etc.), making suggestive remarks, or harassing you to see how you react. Are you hesitant and fearful, afraid to look them in the eye? Or are you confident, decisive, and able to deal with them? This is what they look for. If the assailant feels you are weak, they may decide to escalate this ploy into a physical assault. Don’t let this happen! Stop the assailant in his tracks. A verbal
reaction of, “Leave me alone!” is sufficient. If the harassment or verbal abuse continues beyond that, take defensive steps, particularly if the assailant is following you! When you make your demand to be left alone, don’t do so while walking away. Stop, face the assailant and make your demand: “Leave me alone. Get away from me!” Then, still facing the assailant, back away from him. At that point the assailant will either leave you alone, or continue his assault on you, at which time, you don’t hesitate to use your spray!

Physical Assault

Physical assault is any unwanted hitting, grabbing, touching, shoving, tripping, or sexual advance. It’s also the obvious or implied threat of such physical action. Physical assault calls for immediate and decisive defensive action, using your defense spray, to stop the assailant in his tracks. This will be covered in another article.

Copyright By Doug Lamb

Choosing a Defense Spray – Pepper Spray or Tear Gas

June 15, 2007

Over the last several years, the popularity of self defense sprays, mistakenly called tear gas or Mace, has grown tremendously. The rising rate of violent crime, the publicity and media coverage of such crimes and the reasoning that “if it’s good enough for the police, it is good enough for me” has led more and more citizens to rely on these devices. The demand for defense sprays has become so great that today there is literally dozens of different brands, types, and size to choose from. And, to make matters worse, there are three basic chemical compositions used, only one of which is worth considering for civilian self-defense.

Chemical Composition

There are three basic chemical compounds used in self defense sprays:
– CS (Orthoclorobenzalmalonitrile)
– CN (Alphachloroacetaphenone)
– OC (Oleoresin Capsicum)

OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) is the newest of the three, by far the most effective, and one you should definitely consider for self defense use.

Comparative Effects

CS and CN are irritants to membrane tissues. They cause stinging pain and tearing, and take from 5 to 30 seconds to be effective. In cases of persons who are drunk, on drugs, suffering a psychotic episode, or otherwise cannot feel pain, there may be no effect at all. For years, the field experiences of police officers have been riddled with accounts of total failure of CN and CS products when used as a self defense spray. The reduced ability of CS and CN to subdue those who can’t feel pain, coupled with their delayed effectiveness (5 seconds is an eternity if you’re being attacked with a knife), make these two chemicals too unreliable for use by untrained, possibly physically limited, persons. OC is not an irritant. It is an inflammatory agent; and this makes all the difference in the world. When a person is sprayed with OC, two things happen instantly. First, the person’s eyes clamp shut, instantly. If they do manage to force them open, they still can’t see because the OC dilates the capillaries and causes temporary blindness. Second, an immediate fit of uncontrollable coughing doubles the person over since the OC causes instant inflammation of the breathing tissues, restricting all but life support breathing. OC, in effect, puts up a brick wall between an assailant and the victim. As one police trainer has put it, “It’s like being hit with a flame thrower!” An assailant, who’s sprayed with OC stops what they’re doing, stops what they’re thinking – period. This is true even for those who are drunk, on drugs, or psychotic. OC works extremely well on animals, although most versions are not made for this purpose.

Other Considerations

In addition to not being as effective as OC, CN and CS take longer to wear off and the chemical residue can last for days. They are both man-made chemicals and are identified as possible carcinogenic agents. Long term skin problems and toxic reactions have also been documented. OC, on the other hand, is a natural chemical derivative of various hot peppers. It has not been found to be toxic in any way, and absolutely does not harm delicate tissues. The effects of OC, depending on the concentration and the availability of fresh air, take about 20 to 30 minutes to wear off. The assailant makes a full recovery, with no after-effects unless the OC spray contains an identifying dye. This usually lasts a week or more, but is harmless.


For the reasons outlined previously, we recommend a defense spray containing OC in any formulation and concentration over a CN- or CS- based spray for self defense by law enforcement and civilians. Combination sprays are very effective as long as it contains a good quantity of pepper spray.

Purchase Considerations

Once proven that OC was superior to CN and CS (the number of suppliers and brands of OC spray multiplied quickly. And with their increased numbers, came different concentrations, formulations, sizes, nozzle types, and spray patterns. Even if a buyer of defense spray chooses OC, there are still several other critical considerations.

Size and Capacity

Size generally ranges from approximately one half ounce up to four ounces. Small units work well as a key chain or clipped onto a pocket. A medium-size 2 oz. unit works well in a purse or on a belt. The large 4 oz. size can also be carried in a purse or on a belt, but tends to be bulky. These are made primarily for law enforcement purposes. The size of the unit generally determines its capacity- how much compound can be sprayed for what length of time. Other capacity indicators are the number of shots per unit and how far the unit will shoot. This is where it may get confusing. To simplify things, two factors are fairly flexible: the range and the number of shots available. The range needs only be 6-to-8 feet, the distance at which most personal assaults take place. Keep in mind, that the greater the distance the unit is fired from, the more accurate the aim must be, something that can be difficult in a time of stress. The number of shots available is not critical, as a good one- to two-second burst will disable almost any assailant. Even the smallest units have enough compound in them to handle multiple attackers if done correctly.

Nozzle and Spray Pattern

Much more important than capacity, is the spray pattern and dispersal-density of the unit. There are generally two types of spray patterns: a stream pattern which gives good range but requires aiming directly at the face; and a cone mist, also known as a fogger, which has a shorter range but does not require true aiming. In addition to these factors, there are two other important comparisons. First, if there is a breeze, the stream spray is more controllable. The cone mist can be blown off target or even back at the sprayer. The second question is how easily the mist can be inhaled. OC works best when it hits the eyes and when inhaled. The cone mist is inhaled instantly while the stream may require longer exposure to cause coughing spasms. With all types of sprays, it is critical to hit the attacker in the face!


OC normally comes in concentrations of 10% and 50%. Due to a number of formulation differences, the percent of concentration is not always a good indicator of effectiveness. One of the biggest misconceptions about defense spray is that the higher the percentage, the better it will work. The percentage has nothing to do with the actual “heat” the spray, as that is rated in terms of Scoville Heat Units.


Although each individual should purchase what they feel is best for them, a medium-size with a cone-mist spray is probably the overall best choice for most people. Since most people carry a keychain, a keychain unit is a good choice. In addition, a large fogger type unit & unit with a cone spray should be in the home, either at bedside or by the front door. This will be covered later.

Legal Considerations

As nice as it would be to think we have the right to protect ourselves with a non-injurious device no matter where we are, such is not the case. Despite the fact that OC spray has never been found to injure anyone, and in fact has been responsible for preserving life and limb of law enforcement officers and civilians alike, there are still some jurisdictions that have outlawed all defense sprays. Most of these laws are based on the history and perception of old-style tear- gas sprays. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you check with local law enforcement officials before purchasing, carrying, or possessing a defense spray of any kind.

Age Consideration

At what age should a person be allowed to carry a personal defense spray? The answer depends on several factors. First, the maturity of the person should be considered. The young person must understand that defense sprays are to be used for defense purposes only. They are not toys, or something to brag about to their friends. And they’re certainly not to be used to play practical jokes, etc. Second, the environment of the young person should be considered. If they regularly live, work, attend school, etc. in an area where they are at risk, then a defense spray could provide the protection they need. Parents need to understand the need and personality of their child before they allow him/her to carry defense sprays. If the parents of a 16-year-old girl feel their daughter is mature enough to go out on dates, she should be mature enough to carry a defense spray. This, provided, she’s been taught how and when to use it. Those same parents may have a wild, sometimes uncontrollable 17-year-old son who, if given a spray, would likely show it off to his friends, spray people as a prank, and might even possibly use it to commit an assault on someone else. The key question a parent must ask, is whether or not their child needs the spray, and whether or not they have the maturity to respect and use the device for self-protection only. Another consideration is your local and state laws. These need to be checked before you purchase defense spray for yourself or your children.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Copyright By D. Lamb

Riot Control Tactics and Crowd Management Techniques

June 11, 2007

Police and military forces are better trained and better equipped to handle crowds that get out of control. In handling riot situations, it is important to know what causes riots, how police approach crowd control problems, and what equipment they use to clear the streets safely.

What Makes a Riot?

First we must understand how a riot develops in the first place. A riot is a crowd that takes aggressive and illegal actions as a reaction to fear or anger. The crowd takes on a mob mindset and does things they normally would not do because the crowd makes them anonymous. Being anonymous and seeing the actions of the others makes them feel like they can damage, burn or harm whatever and whomever they want.

The fuel for a riot builds up over time. In many situations, this can take years or even decades of racial prejudice, unfair treatment or abuse. When people have no effective way of dealing with these issues or bettering their situation, an undercurrent of anger and frustration grows stronger and stronger.

Once the situation is at a breaking point, almost anything can set it off. An incident that angers one group can immediately turn them against another group of people. Sometimes an actual incident isn’t even required and it may just a rumor that spread through a group to turn anger into a violent outburst.

Sports teams losing or winning a major game can sometimes cause riots. In this case, the fuel doesn’t build up for a long time and it’s mainly the result of alcohol. The drunkenness of the crowd contributes heavily to these riots and is simply sparked by the excitement or disappointment.

Riot Control Tactics

The tactics used to control riots in the past were very simple. The success was based on the fact that the police were almost always better armed than the rioters. The tactics they used basically consisted of forming a line and charging into the crowd. The police today are even better armed, but the techniques have advanced significantly and usually prevent the injuries that we have seen in the past.

When a riot is in full swing, police will arrange themselves in a square formation with a command team at the center. The command team is protected on all four sides by echelons of troops deployed in groups of 10 or 12 officers. There is also an arrest team at the center of the square.

This riot control unit is very mobile and can adapt quickly to changes in the mod or situation. If a threat suddenly appears in a different direction, the echelon facing that direction is designated the front of the unit. The entire team can change direction without a lot of reorganizing. The echelons can also cover each other when the team moves to take new positions. If a section is under attack, the whole team does not move together. One echelon moves while the others provide covering fire or an actual physical screen using riot shields. Then another echelon moves up into position.

This layout is not meant to be an impenetrable wall of police. Actually, the riot team leaves an escape route to let rioters run past. The officers can take a passive stance by spreading out and leaving a large opening between each officer. The crowd can then easily filter through them. If an overly violent person or group moves toward the officers, they can immediately close the gaps and form a tight line.

As the officers move forward into a crowd, they push at anyone who doesn’t respond to verbal requests to move away by. If they still refuse to move, the unit continues moving forward, but the front line opens up and passes around the protesters. Once the specific people are inside the square, the unit stops and the arrest team processes the rioters. The front line closes and the unit can continue moving.

Riot Control Technology

When crowd control units get ready to engage, the first thing required is protective gear. The full outfit typically consists of:

* Helmet with face shield
* Body armor
* Large body shield

The body shield and face shield are typically made of a material called Lexan. If thick enough, it can be bullet proof. But in this application, it basically protects against thrown objects or attacks with sticks and similar weapons.

The most basic offensive weapon a riot control officer has is a baton. These are usually between 24 and 42 inches long and are made of various materials. Expandable batons or expanding batons are also used because of their size when closed. They can fit into holsters and worn on the belt similar to handcuffs. There are also batons that are fashioned after stun guns and referrer to as stun batons. Most crowd control units use some type of baton instead of rifles because the presence of guns are likely to escalate any situation. If someone manages to take a gun away from an officer, the results could be disastrous.

If guns are being used, the police typically employ a variety of non-lethal rounds. Although these are not generally considered fatal rounds, anything fired from a gun has the potential to be deadly. But, they are trained to use these weapons in ways that minimize the risk of death or serious injury.

These rounds are commonly fired from a 40mm single shot or multi-round gun. They are similar to military grenade launchers.

Riot Control Rounds

Some of these non-lethal rounds include:

* Blunt-force rounds – These rounds cause pain when they strike, but they don’t penetrate the skin. They are often fired at the ground so the round skips off the pavement and strikes the rioters in the legs. Each round is filled with small discs. When officers skip the rounds off the ground in front of the crowd, they separate and tend to hit multiple rioters. It can cause a lot of pain, but has a lesser chance of doing damage as compared to a solid piece of the material. The objective is to cause enough pain to make the rioter comply with the officers.

* Bean Bag Round – These are square-shaped bean bags that have a long-range but they tend to be inaccurate. There are teardrop-shaped bean bag rounds with a tail that are geared toward accuracy.

* Sponge Round – Bullet-shaped round with a sponge tip. They are all-purpose with average range and accuracy.

* Stinger rounds – A Stinger round is loaded with small, rubber pellets that disperse on impact.

* Pepper ball rounds – A paint ball gun is slightly modified to fire pepper spray pellets instead of paint balls. When these strike someone, the severe burning sensation in the eyes and nose will incapacitate most people without doing permanent harm. When children or elderly people might be present in a crowd, the police can use water pellets instead. It still stings to get hit with water pellets and sometimes people are afraid they have actually been hit with pepper spray, so the crowd disperses.

* Aerosol grenades – These are metal canisters that are activated and thrown like regular grenades. They spray tear gas or pepper spray gas over a wide area. Officers rarely throw these directly into a crowd since it can increase panic. They typically use the gas to create a type of barricade to direct the crowd’s movements in a certain direction. A gas grenade might be thrown into the crowd if a particular group is extremely violent or attacking a single victim.

* Ferret rounds – Ferret rounds are made to penetrate windows or wooden barricades, where they can then deposit the gas. These are used to flush people out of barricades and other standoff situations.

* Dye rounds – Sponge rounds, ferret rounds and pepperball rounds can all be filled with marker dye. These are used to mark certain people in a crowd so that other officers can identify them or so that they can be caught later if they leave the scene. In a riot, the leaders are often tagged with marker-dye rounds so the arrest team can pick them up later.

* Gas rounds – These rounds are loaded with a gas that causes severe irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and even causes contact skin burns in some cases. These most commonly contain pepper spray or tear gas. Officers don’t like to use gas rounds, because they know they’re going to experience some of the effects of the gas themselves. Still, they wear gas masks and goggles to protect themselves in case the need arises.

Crowd Control Prevention

Today’s riot control units are not usually called riot squads anymore; they are crowd-management units. Rather than trying to beat the rioters in battle, the police just try to calm them down and get them to go home. The use even non-lethal force is a last resort.

The first step in crowd management is making sure a riot doesn’t happen in the first place. Although riots can erupt unexpectedly, they are frequently tied to a planned protest or organized demonstration. When the police think a situation could potentially get out of control, they contact the organizers of the protest ahead of time. They set up ground rules that the protesters are to follow and they designate a specific area for the event to take place. The police assign specially trained officers to monitor the event and to ensure that everyone stays safe. The police will only take action if the ground rules are broken.

If the officers disagree with the opinions of the protesters, they are still trained to maintain an unbiased attitude. The officers try not to look at the protesters as enemies. Instead, they recognize that the rioters are part of the same community that the police are entrusted to protect and serve. There is fine balancing act.

Even though police are trained to be polite, they are careful to not give off an impression of subservience. They have to be seen as being in charge and in control at all times, even while they stay passive and allow the crowd to operate within the ground rules set out ahead of time. Occasionally these preventative measures don’t work and a riot breaks out despite police efforts to keep everyone peaceful.

Crowd Control Conflict

If a crowd gets disorderly and starts taking violent action, the police will switch to a more aggressive approach. They understand that most riots are lead by a few individuals who feel strongly or have something to gain from a violent confrontation. The majority of the people are present either because something exciting is going on or they are simply bystanders that get caught up in the mob mentality. The likelihood of arrest or confrontation with police usually prompt them to escape and go home.

The first step is simple intimidation. Riot police stand in strict formations and act with military precision. Once they form the lines of barriers, they tap their batons on their shields or stomp their feet in unison. The result can be quite intimidating to unarmed civilians. It can appear that the group is getting ready to attack. In reality, this display is meant to scare off as many of the rioters as possible without the officers ever getting near them.

Police do not try to arrest every person in the riot. Their first targets are those who are leading the riot because the crowd will often disperse without their leaders encouraging them. Everyone seen breaking a law are also targeted for arrest, especially if they injure someone.

When the officers are actually in conflict with the rioters, the objective is still to disperse the crowd. A combination of advancing lines of officers and the use of gas is used to move the crowd in a particular direction. The crowd is never pinned down and always given an escape route. The main purpose of the crowd management team is to get the people to disperse.