What Types of Non-Lethal Self Defense Are Used by Law Enforcement

Police officers are faced with protecting the public on a constant basis.  This is an extremely demanding job, and requires that they are able to quickly make dangerous situations safer and be able to effectively subdue anyone that is causing a threat to another person or to the general peace.  Ideally, they are able to do so without the use of deadly force.  There are several standard issue items that are used by police and law enforcement as non-lethal self defense. 

Pepper Spray and Mace

Pepper spray, or oleoresin capsicum, is a potent chemical that is used to temporarily blind and disable criminals or attackers.  When pepper spray comes into contact with a person’s eyes, skin or mucous membranes, it will cause severe pain and discomfort that can last for up to 45 minutes.  This is generally plenty of time for an officer to subdue a criminal.  The pepper sprays carried by law enforcement tend to be a higher concentration that those products that are sold to the general public and considered legal to carry.  Mace is another type of non-lethal chemical weapon used by law enforcement personnel.  Often confused with pepper spray (these terms are frequently used interchangeably), mace is more similar to the compound found in tear gas (2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile).  Again, this aerosol agent will cause severe burning sensations and temporary blindness any time it comes into contact with skin, eyes and mucous membranes.

Stun Guns and Tasers

Stun guns and tasers are forms of electronic control devices.  These hand held, battery powered or rechargeable items will send a powerful electric shock into the criminal, and will be quite painful and disabling for a short period of time.  When hit by a stun gun or taser, a person’s brain is temporarily unable to control muscle function, and the person becomes paralyzed for a period of time, ranging from a few minutes to up to a half hour, depending on the amount of voltage.  Stun guns and tasers come in different varieties, some need to have direct contact with a body to discharge, others can be used from a distance.  Again, the types used by law enforcement are stronger and deliver more electric charge than those sold to the general public.

Batons and Night Sticks

Batons, also commonly referred to as night sticks, are a standard part of police equipment.  Made from aluminum, extremely hard plastic or wood, a baton is used to club or strike a person or serve as a restraining tool for choke holds and other subduing efforts.  Batons or night sticks can be straight and have a one-piece design, or they may be spring loaded or collapsible and able to extend over two feet, allowing for far more powerful use.

Personal Use of Non-Lethal Weapons

Many of the non-lethal weapons that are used by police and other law enforcement personnel can be used by civilians, as well.  Similar products (often somewhat less potent or dangerous than the police grade versions) can often be obtained for personal protection and very effective self defense.