Conclusions

The most important considerations in using chemical crowd-control agents is that they be used judiciously, correctly, and in place of more forceful means of controlling violent or potentially violent prisoners or crowds. Law enforcement officers should be educated on the common clinical effects and the appropriateness of seeking medical care. Medical care should never be withheld from those who request it or in those prisoners who have lingering effects. Treatment of exposure is summarized in Table 3. To limit injury or potential liability, many police forces regulate the use of chemical crowd-control agents by establishing policies to guide their use. One example is the "ladder of force" employed by some police departments. Words are used first, followed by more defensive actions (such as chemical agents), then batons, and finally firearms. Use of these agents is monitored, and formal reports are filed when they are used. These agents afford control of violent offenders with much less risk to life and limb than do firearms, explosives, and battering.

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