New recruits experience pepper spray for the first time

New recruits get pepper sprayed as part of their training.
New recruits get pepper sprayed as part of their training.(Madison Newman)
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 7:00 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Friday the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office put their new recruits to the test by pepper spraying them.

Oleoresin Capsicum, better known as pepper spray, comes from plants like chili peppers. The spray, along with a taser, is one of the least lethal options officers have when a situation escalates.

“The spray is designed to actually cause physiological responses. It’s basically taking Tabasco sauce and rubbing it in your eyes, your mouth your nose. It causes those same types of responses where your eyes close, it’s hard to breath, and the first time people experience that we don’t want that to be in situation where they’re having to defend themselves or somebody else,” said Pennington County Sheriff’s Office training manager Tony Verchio.

During Friday’s training, new recruits were required to be sprayed in the face. While they coped with the pepper spray, they had to call for backup, spray a mannequin with their own pepper spray, and haul another classmate to safety. The training is designed to prepare students for situations they could experience in the field.

Some students had intense reactions.

“After it was done, I had to keep walking around to get that breeze on my face, but after that, kind of going along with the effects and having to keep trucking on really sucks. I really don’t want to have to this to somebody to be honest, but it was really fun to get to do it I guess,” one recruit said.

“It felt wonderful, a little spicy,” another recruit said.

The recruits go through ethics, de-escalation and defensive tactics training before heading to the academy to finish training.