Yesterday afternoon, pepper spray was discharged in a Carmody Middle School bus packed with about fifty students -- eight of whom required medical treatment afterward. At this point, according to Lakewood Police spokesman Steve Davis, the spritzing appears accidental and no criminal charges are anticipated. But he thinks such incidents might be prevented with a little education.
Plenty of adults carry pepper spray, and in recent years, this trend has been passed down to kids -- typically, although not exclusively, middle-schoolers and up. Davis doesn't decry this development: "Obviously, there are no laws against carrying it, and I can see that at times it is a very effective tool for people to use in an attempt to defend themselves," he says.
However, accidental discharges at schools are becoming more commonplace. One at Chatfield High School a year or two back caused the entire common-area of the facility to be evacuated. With that in mind, Davis notes, "Young people, especially, should be educated on just how effective that type of spray can be on someone. I can tell you that for our people who carry it, part of their training is to have a shot of that spray on them, so they can feel the effects and know how it burns. I've taken a shot of pepper spray myself, and I can tell you, it's very uncomfortable.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"The good news is, the effects are very short-lived," Davis continues, "and it's very easily diluted with water. For someone to be seriously injured by pepper spray is almost unheard of. But I think before someone carries it or any other self-defense tool, they should be educated on how to use it, what it does, and how uncomfortable it can make someone feel," even if it's not sprayed directly on them.
Parents, teach your children well.
Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.
More from our News archive: "Eight-year-old pepper sprayed by cops: Officers made 'great' choice, says police spokesman."