Training Day: Pepperball BLAST Deployment Scenarios
It was in 1999 during a gang fight at USP Leavenworth that I first saw PepperBall deployed. There were more than a dozen different inmate fights on the bottom floor of the cell when two officers equipped with PepperBall systems responded. I was impressed with the combination of sound, PAVA powder and non-lethal impact which quickly sent inmates to their cells for safety.
Innovation has always been key to PepperBall’s success, and the PepperBall BLAST is just one more way to deliver a payload that will distract, disorient, or incapacitate an inmate.
An ideal short-range solution for law enforcement and corrections, it is effective up to 12 feet. This lightweight, rechargeable delivery system is perfect for carrying in a holster on your hip or vest, or in your hand as a member of an extraction cell or CERT team.
Each refillable BLAST cartridge contains up to three projectiles of PAVA powder. When the quick-toggle safety is turned and pressed, the PAVA powder is pushed out of the tube by a 1.8g N2O cartridge and will quickly cover the inmate and saturate the cell. Since there are no actual pepperballs deployed when fired, this is a truly non-lethal non-impact product.
PAVA (also known as pelargonic acid vanillylamide) is a synthetic capsaicinoid used in PepperBall projectiles for its ability to attach to lighter substances and stay aloft longer. This increases the effectiveness of PAVA powder when deployed.
Available in INERT (no PAVA) and LIVE-X (5% PAVA) concentrations, the BLAST can be reloaded with new barrels and a 1.8g nitrogen cartridge (N2 allows for use in all temperatures and all climates).
Emergency Cell Extraction
Approximately the size of a mini-mag flashlight, the BLAST is 1.5 ounces and only 6.9 inches long. Its compact size makes it perfect for the lead member of a cell extraction team to carry and deploy as the door opens. Whether it’s a cell extraction team of three or five staff, the key to success is the surprise of a blast-dispersing powder cloud blocking the inmate’s vision. A LIVE-X BLAST will also provide the burning sensation of PAVA powder, but an INERT BLAST will create the same crushing cloud, causing the inmate to turn away and momentarily lose focus on the team.
Surprise and speed always favor any cell extraction team. Even when the inmate is waiting for the PepperBall BLAST, the surprise and speed of the explosion will cause the inmate to turn away from the powder blast, giving the team a critical advantage. The BLAST should be aimed at the central mass with the PAVA powder saturating the upper chest and mucus areas of the head.
Calculated cell extraction
Through the door, manual cell extraction is not always the preferred or safest method of removing an inmate from a cell. With a reach of 12 feet, the PepperBall BLAST can also be used effectively through the slot or vent to fill the cell with 10 grams of LIVE-X PAVA powder. Pointing the BLAST at the ceiling will cause this powder to remain suspended in the air, causing maximum physiological and psychological effects on the inmate and encouraging submission to hand restraints without sending any personnel through the door.
As with any chemical munition, a tactical pause is important to assess the effectiveness of each deployment. Exposure to PAVA will cause an immediate reaction in the eyes, nose, throat and chest. If the detainee is still not compliant, the BLAST can be refilled and redeployed with another non-impacting, non-lethal payload.
Immediate use of force
Carried in a holster on your vest or hip, the PepperBall BLAST is also a reliable close-range response to an attack or other use of force. Its one-handed use allows the officer to keep one hand free to deflect attacks, while deploying a LIVE-X powder blast with the other. The BLAST leaves a cloud of powder between the officer and the inmate, giving the officer time to get better reaction distance or call for help.
Another big advantage of PAVA powder is easier decontamination. After use in a cell or on an inmate, there is no need for soaps or scrubbing, just fresh air and cool, clean water. PAVA powder can also be cleaned with a damp mop or wet vacuum filled with a few inches of water at the bottom.
The PepperBalll BLAST has the portability of an OC cartridge, but with the surprise and coverage of a blast dispersal munition. The advantages of a portable, lightweight and rechargeable launcher make it perfect for every correctional officer’s use of force toolbox.
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