By Sgt. Joseph GuentherMay 20, 2013
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- The Military Police leadership of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division hosted pepper spray training for MPs across the division who required the certification May 15, 2013.
The training, which is mandatory for all military law enforcement before they may carry the painful and often demobilizing chemical, serves the dual purpose of allowing Soldiers to understand and feel the effects, and be able to perform their law enforcement functions in the event of a cross-contamination, said Sgt. 1st Class John Murphy, the 2nd BCT Provost Marshal's Office noncommissioned officer in charge.
Pepper spray is not designed to seriously injure people, Murphy said.
He explained that "it hurts and it burns, but you also need to know that if you get cross-contaminated with it, you know that you can continue with what you're doing."
Many non-lethal weapons such as pepper spray or a Taser can mean the end of a fight for a hostile suspect who is resisting law enforcement. In some scenarios, a suspect may attempt to use similar force against police. For this reason MPs are required to endure more than simply feeling pain. They need to prove they can endure and perform.
Following a spray to a trainee's eyes, the Soldier must engage a series of opponents, each representing an escalation of force.
"The first station was a subject take-down," Murphy said. "Immediately after you deploy it, you have to gain control and know you can do that."
"You can't just spray somebody and just sit there and watch it," he said.
After being sprayed in the eyes, Military Police are required to respond appropriately to increasingly hostile threats. Such actions include defending themselves with batons, hand-to-hand fighting, and finally recovering a dropped firearm and direct it toward an armed suspect while instructing him to drop his weapon and lie down on the ground.
Despite the hardship and challenge, many MPs view the training as a rite of passage.
"It was awesome," said Pvt. Dylan Malvano, who is assigned to 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion. "I've been wanting to do this for a while, so I was really motivated."
Malvano explained that, although it's a necessary step toward the certification required to be allowed to carry pepper spray, being able to claim to have endured such grueling training provides him with great personal pride as a Paratrooper and an MP.
"It's pride because I took pepper spray to the face, but it's a tactical advantage because it's always nice to have another tool on the road if needed," Malvano continued.
"I've always been interested in law enforcement," he said. "I figured I'd start here, and if I like it, maybe make a career out of it."