By Mr. Richard RzepkaDecember 30, 2014
TORII STATION, Okinawa -- Military Policemen with the 247th Military Police Detachment got a taste of their own medicine Dec. 29-30 during Oleoresin Capsicum Spray Certification. The spray, known commonly as pepper spray, was applied liberally during the training regimen during which 14 new additions to the force here coughed, gagged and choked their way through.
Oleoresin Capsicum is an extract of the pepper plant used for centuries as a culinary spice and is used by law enforcement professionals around the world as a safe and effective less-than- lethal weapon according to the Department of Energy's Office of Scientific and Technical Information. The primary effects of OC exposure include pain and irritation of the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth, but the newest MPs at Torii Station would hardly describe the experience as irritating.
"Getting sprayed with the OC is probably one of the most painful things I've ever done. As soon as it hits you it burns, you can't open your eyes and it feels like you've got rocks in your eyes," said Military Policeman Sgt. Joshua Hall as he coughed and contorted after being sprayed.
Hall said the spray certification was excellent training, in that it gives the MPs a different perspective on escalating the levels of force while taking into consideration their immediate surroundings.
Many of his counterparts agreed the training was beneficial, but not worth repeating.
"I never want to do it again -- it was the worst experience ever," said Spc. Donisha Richardson. "We're carrying it and we administer it so we need to know the effects of it… Don't do anything to have to get OC sprayed," she said with a smile.
The Provost Marshal's Office at Torii Station has received 14 new Soldiers in the last two months and is mandated by the Office of the Provost Marshal General to receive law enforcement certification annually or when newly arrived to an installation, according to Sgt. 1st Class Mark Davis, Torii Station Provost Sergeant.
"The key takeaway for them today would be the confidence," said Davis. "In the equipment and the ability to understand how and when it should be used."
The course is 40 hours and new Soldiers build on the knowledge they already have and learn the differences in local laws, community policing with local national police and procedures for the area. They also receive training from all agencies that support the law enforcement mission such as SJA, Family Advocacy, Military Intelligence and the Army's Criminal Investigation Division. The new Soldiers then are sent out to right seat ride for a week with a seasoned patrol here to learn the area of operations.
For Davis, a veteran MP, the toughest part about being an MP isn't the OC spray or taser training, it's the 365-days-a-year, 24/7 service they provide to every U.S. Army installation.
"Other Soldiers are enjoying Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years, but rest assured, there is an MP standing guard to assist, protect and defend those who are need. Sometimes this is forgotten in the Army and we as MPs don't discuss it much within our ranks because it's our inherit responsibility… but we all wear the responsibility like a badge of honor."