Some county employees now authorized to use chemical spray

Published 7:06 am Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Some county workers will now have an extra measure of defense when dealing with dangerous situations.

The Mower County board on Tuesday adopted a policy that will require a number of employees be issued and authorized to use a chemical irritant spray — a policy that had been discussed for the past few years, county human resources director Allan Cordes said.

Probation officers, social workers, deputies, jailers, nurses and property appraisers will all be covered under the policy. Previously, only deputies were authorized to use the spray.

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To use the spray — which will be similar to the commonly used Mace — the employees will have to go through a training session, which will be conducted by the Mower County Sheriff’s Department.

“It’s a weapon,” Cordes said, “but we’re saying we’re not going to issue it until you go through the whole training.”

In addition to a mandated training, the new policy states that employees should use it only to prevent an assault and should try to resolve situations without the spray first.

If the irritant is used, employees will have to notify law enforcement that it has been used, document the incident and supply paperwork to a supervisor.

Cordes said it will be up to individual workers if they choose to carry the spray with on certain cases — and if they choose to use it.

The county will use CS-OC Blend Freeze Plus P, an irritant that combines pepper spray with another chemical. A Web site for the product states that it is the “most intense incapacitating agent available today.”

County coordinator Craig Oscarson said the spray is best used on human attackers, but a similar policy for using less-intense pepper spray may be coming soon, which could be applied in situations involving animal attacks.

Oscarson said some workers already use pepper spray, which can be purchased over the counter, but noted there is no specific policy in place on its use.