NYPD upgrades to stronger pepper spray to reduce police-involved shootings

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NEW YORK -- An NYPD officer’s use of pepper spray typically stops some in their tracks.

Dozens of Occupy Wall Street and Eric Garner protesters, along with ordinary New Yorkers living in the city’s tougher neighborhoods, have found that out the hard way.

The NYPD has upgraded officers with a pepper spray that’s three times stronger -- at .67 percent concentration.

If you can believe it, there are even stronger concentrations of pepper spray of 1.33 percent in other police departments across the country, including the Suffolk County Police department on Long Island and the Boston Police Department.

"So we’ll field test over the next year or so, to see if it’s having the desired effect," NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said. "Once again, we are using level two. If I can get away using less than hundred percent by using .68 percent because the .21 percent clearly was not working.”

“From my own experience as a police officer many years ago, I was in a situation when my colleagues pulled out pepper spray, and because they were not properly trained, they sprayed us and the perps,” said John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Police Director Maki Haberfeld.

Haberfeld adds the officer holding the spray canister will determine the outcome of an encounter, not the concentration of the pepper spray.

“It’s not about the equipment, it’s about training, but it’s also about emotional preparedness. Use of force, whether it’s pepper spray, less potent, or more potent, it’s still use of force,” Haberfeld said.