504 – Use of Chemical Weapons

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I. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines regarding the proper carry and use of chemical agents. Chemical agents are designed to result in temporary dysfunction without causing permanent injury.

II. Policy

Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) employees will only use and carry chemical agents approved by this policy and in the manner prescribed by this policy.

III. Training

A. Employees must complete prerequisite training through the HCSO Academy on the use of chemical agents in order to carry or use these tools. [CALEA Standard 4.1.4]

1. Employees must complete in-service training every two years to remain authorized to carry and use chemical agents.

2. Training will be documented by the HCSO Academy.

3. Failure to complete training will result in authorization to carry chemical agents being revoked.

IV. Restrictions on Usage

Employees will not:

1. Use chemical agents on subjects exhibiting only verbal or passive resistance;

2. Use chemical agents on subjects who are under physical restraint, unless the subject is actively exhibiting violent physical resistance, and lesser means of controlling the subject have failed; and

3. Carry chemical agents in an HCSO detention facility without prior authorization from the Bureau Commander.

V. Authorized Chemical Agents

A. Only the following aerosol spray chemical agents, with the active ingredient oleoresin capsicum (OC), are authorized for use [CALEA Standard 4.3.1]:

1. Def-Tec, MK-3 and MK-4, stream or foam spray only;

2. Guardian, Body Guard LE, 3BG10 and 44GBG10, stream or foam spray only;

3. Sabre Defense, MK-3 and MK-4, stream or foam spray only; and

4. Sabre Red MK-9 Fog (for crowd dispersal or control).

B. Other chemical agents may be approved by the Department Manual for use by specialized units.

VI. Proper Carry of Chemical Agents

Uniformed personnel must carry the canister in an appropriate holster, consistent with training.

VII. Practical Uses of Chemical Agents

Chemical agents are considered an intermediate force option, see Policy #501 – Response to Resistance. They are a versatile tool with many possible practical uses. Such uses include, but are not limited to:

1. Repelling human and animal attacks;

2. Temporarily dysfunction violently resisting subjects;

3. Compelling barricaded subjects to leave an enclosure; and

4. Dispersing violent crowds or riots.

VIII. Typical Procedures

A. While this policy cannot account for every situation an employee might face, typical procedures for using chemical agents are as follows:

1. Be upwind from the subject before deploying chemical agents;

2. Be a safe distance, between four and six feet, from the subject and avoid spraying a subject when closer than three feet;

3. Avoid entering the spray area for a few seconds after deployment;

4. Spray in two consecutive half-second to one second bursts;

5. The subject’s eyes should be the primary target, with the nose and mouth as secondary targets.

NOTE: Use of chemical agents should be avoided when it may affect uninvolved or complacent subjects.

IX. Requirements After Chemical Agent Deployment

In addition to the requirements in Response to Resistance, employees must ensure the following after chemical agent deployment:

1. Persons subjected to chemical agents will:

a. Be afforded means of cleansing the chemical agent to lessen the discomfort as soon as they are under control.

b. Be treated at the scene by medical personnel. [CALEA Standard 4.1.5]

c. Be kept upright with a clear airway to avoid possible positional asphyxia.

2. An employee who has used chemical agents on a subject will:

a. Notify a supervisor. A supervisor must respond to the scene of any incident where an employee deploys chemical agents on a subject.

b. Advise JPC personnel the subject has been exposed to chemical agents in advance, if subject is to be transported to JPC.

c. Complete an incident report consistent with Response to Resistance, Section VII. (C).


This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

April 21, 2009

December 3, 2013

December 5, 2016

September 21, 2021

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