The New York Police Department hopes a more potent pepper spray will lead to fewer police shootings, but some critics say the upgraded aerosol is a recipe for disaster, the New York Daily News reports. More than 19,000 cops have been given canisters of Sabre 5.0, a spray with a .67 percent concentration of major capsaicinoids, the chemicals that make peppers hot. That's more than three times the .21 percent concentration in the spray the NYPD has used for years. Both sprays are manufactured by Sabre Security Equipment Corp.
Police guidelines permit the use of pepper spray when it is deemed necessary to bring someone resisting arrest into custody, to subdue an emotionally disturbed person who is resisting or for self defense against someone using force. The .21% version, which was so weak it usually did not work on dogs, emotionally disturbed people or suspects high on certain drugs, was considered unreliable by many officers. “A more effective pepper spray can help reduce the amount of force needed to gain control of a suspect or emotionally disturbed person,” said Deputy Police Chief Edward Mullen. told the Daily News. Nearly 100 other law enforcement agencies use an even stronger spray, a 1.33% concentration. Officers used pepper spray 284 times in arrest situations last year, down from 337 the year before.