Police officers to be armed with pepper spray

Police officers are to be equipped with pepper spray -- similar to that used by women to protect against sexual assault -- in an effort to provide them with a wider range of policing choices, the National Police Agency (NPA) said on Wednesday.

The pepper spray will first be issued to police on highway patrols, as well as those working in railways and airports, at the end of the month.

The spray, which emits a burning combination of pepper and chili, can temporarily render a suspect powerless, the NPA said at a news conference to introduce the new device.

Pepper sprays are already used by police forces in nine countries, among them, the United States, South Korea, the Philippines and South Africa, where they are listed as essential equipment, the agency said.

The NPA highlighted a spate of recent incidents in which police officers were attacked and injured, indicating that in the future, the police will use pepper spray against individuals who ignore verbal warnings.

Huang Fu-kun(???), an administrative chief at the NPA, said recent incidents in which officers have been shot or stabbed are deeply regrettable.

"The use of pepper spray is more flexible than the use of a fire arm and less deadly," Huang said.

"However, pepper spray will not be used on demonstrators or protesters," he added.

It will cost about NT$100 (US$3.15) per unit to equip the police with pepper spray and the NPA has purchased more than 1,000, Huang said.

The agency will distribute the pepper sprays to railway, highway and aviation police officers at the end of the month. Local police bureaus will make their own decision on whether to buy pepper spray for their officers, it said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel