In October Minnesota State’s campus security officers started carrying both handcuffs and the chemical deterrent Repuls, a newly released defensive product.
Director of Security Sandi Schnorenberg said campus security had been pushing for a long time to carry some type of defensive tools and restraint devices.
“When President Inch came, he had meetings with all the departments and that was one of the first things that my staff brought up to him in our meeting. ‘Hey do you know that we don’t have any defensive tools? We’re basically interviewing people who are intoxicated, who are under the influence of drugs, who are maybe mentally ill, have other things going on or are agitated. We are approaching cars in the dark and we have nothing if somebody were to attack us or we needed to control them until the police came. So we would like to carry some sort of defensive tools,’” said Schnorenberg.
Some students expressed concerns over both handcuffs and the potential harm Repuls could have if used by campus security.
Rylen Poppenhagen, a former member of the student government who had worked on the issue, said he had several concerns.
“As far as my immediate concerns go, handcuffs seem a bit excessive especially since, to do any of the real restraining or arresting of people, they must contact the local police, as far as I am aware of the policy on that matter,” said Poppenhagen. “On the whole, we do not know how every resident or member of the university will react to these chemical irritants.”
Junior Brooke van Geldereun had concerns regarding the necessity of Repuls and handcuffs.
“I just can’t help but wonder why it’s necessary? Has security ever been through an issue where they had to use these materials and they weren’t there? Personally I don’t find it necessary,” said van Geldereun.
Repuls is advertised by its manufacturer Crotega as being safe to use and having multiple advantages over pepper spray. These advantages, according to Crotega, include the fact that Repuls is water-based and therefore can be more specifically targeted during use. In addition, being water based means that individuals who are exposed are more easily decontaminated compared to pepper spray.
These claims were backed up by physician John W. Lyng in a statement put out by Cortega.
“It is my clinical opinion that the ability to rapidly and easily decontaminate subjects exposed to REPULS likely translates to a significant reduction in the risk for injury from this product compared to the risks associated with exposure to OC [oleoresin capsaicin, an ingredient found in pepper spray] containing chemical irritants. Additionally, the risks associated with cross-contamination to first responders and other healthcare personnel appear to be substantially reduced with REPULS compared to other deterrent spray products on the market,” said Lyng.
However, a report published by Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science in June 2023 found that ocular injuries from Repuls could last longer than those sustained by exposure to pepper spray.
Since the new tools were introduced at MSU, there has been only one documented use of handcuffs by campus security. That use happened as the result of an assault on a member of campus security.
“I had hoped that we would never ever ever use them, but we did use the handcuffs on an individual at stadium heights within the first few weeks. But he started assaulting the officer so at that point they used handcuffs,” said Schnorenberg.
According to Schnorenberg, Repuls has not yet been used by campus security.
Photo caption: Campus security vehicles are often driving around MSU’s campus. They now carry handcuffs and chemical deterrent Replus. (Nate Tilahun/The Reporter)
Write ti Jeremy Redlien at Jeremy.email@example.com