The problem with pepper spray

IUPD-Bloomington Chief Laury Flint

IUPD Bloomington Chief Laury Flint

It’s not uncommon for concerned parents to ask police officers for advice about arming soon-to-be new IU students with pepper spray. IU Police Department Bloomington Chief Laury Flint, to my surprise, told me that pepper spray can cause more problems than protection.

She recommends against students carrying it for the following reasons:

  • It can create a false sense of security that results in students taking risks they otherwise would have avoided, such as walking home alone or through unlit areas.
  • Students often carry pepper spray in their purses or backpacks, making it practically useless during an attack because of the time it takes to locate it, unlock it and aim.
  • It’s very difficult to use pepper spray effectively unless properly trained.
  • Pepper spray may be confiscated at events where bags are checked because accidental discharges can affect a large number of people.

“I want students to ‘buddy up,’” Flint said. “Stay with your friends when you’re out late. Take the bus or contact the Safety Escort.”

For more safety tips, visit Protect IU, which includes information about safety, emergency procedures and helpful contacts.

IU Public Safety is part of Public Safety and Institutional Assurance, which falls under the Office of the Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs and the Office of the Vice President for IT and CIO.

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