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ACSO deputies outfitted with spray

NATCHEZ — Adams County’s deputies are packing heat, but these guns don’t fire bullets.

They shoot pepper.

The sheriff’s office issued the new non-lethal weaponry last week, and six Adams County Sheriff’s Office Deputies were trained as instructors for future use of the Jet Protector pepper-spray guns.

The weapons resemble a cross between a pistol and a handle-grip Taser. The guns launch high-grade Oleoresin Capsicum pepper resin solution — which is extracted from Cayenne pepper — at a speed of 450 miles per hour.

Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said pepper spray is a safer and more predictable alternative to a Taser.

“Officers are trained to hit the target in the chest or the back of the shoulders or neck from 5- to 25-feet away Mayfield said. “The strong pepper solution will immobilize the suspect by effecting their eyes, sinuses and skin, without any harmful after effects.”

ACSO spokeswoman Courtney Taylor said the pepper spray guns won’t replace Tasers, but might be used in situations in which Tasers were used in the past.

“Different situations call for different weapons, and there are certain individuals who are not phased by Tasers, but this definitely immobilizes them every tie,” she said.

The ability to shoot rather than spray the pepper irritant makes the application of force more accurate and reduces the chances a suspect will have an adverse reaction to the weaponry, Taylor said.

Some aerosols used in the application of pepper spray have been known to cause negative, more lasting effects on asthmatics.

“The guns have a laser sight, which gives accuracy to the officer and can be a warning to the suspect,” Mayfield said. “In our jail, we have only fired the pepper spray a few times. The laser is usually enough to subdue an inmate.”

In training, deputies were taught to stand at least seven feet away from a subject when using the pepper spray gun, Taylor said, and had to taste the spray and put it on their nose to understand its effects.

Taylor said the ACSO’s preference — and the normal course of action — is for deputies to negotiate and de-escalate a situation rather than use force if possible.

In addition to the pepper spray guns, deputies are armed with regular pepper spray, handguns and shotguns.