Sponsored by Reflex Protect Tactical
By Corrections1 BrandFocus Staff
After the events of 2020, de-escalation in law enforcement has become a hot topic in the news, and police and corrections officers across the U.S. are looking for better tools to help them manage challenging situations. Less-lethal tools provide an important interim step in use of force and can help officers gain compliance from a subject who isn’t responding to verbal commands.
OC (pepper spray) has been a traditional go-to tool for this purpose, but it has several drawbacks – in particular, the tendency to get all over everyone in the vicinity, including the officers trying to gain control of the situation. It also takes a long while to recover once you’ve been exposed, and officers don’t have time to waste.
Now there is an option for the officer’s tool belt that addresses the longstanding limitations of traditional less-lethal options. Reflex Protect, a Montana-based safety preparedness company, developed a completely new hospital-safe active defense formula called Presidia Gel. While they chose CS for its unique ability to force immediate eye closure and deliver incapacitation, they re-envisioned how this chemical compound is delivered, coming up with a formula that is non-aerosol and sticky so that it can be safely deployed inside a sensitive environment without contamination.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Presidia Gel is deployed in a tight stream that results in a high degree of accuracy. The gel formula means it is target-specific and doesn’t atomize or cross-contaminate. The focused stream does not displace oxygen and can be used indoors or within vehicles. Unlike OC, it is not oil-based and thus easier to decontaminate or remove.
The effects of Presidia Gel include immediate, severe discomfort and involuntary eye closure, resulting in complete debilitation, but the formula does not cause damage to eyes, skin, mouth, ears or respiratory tissues. Unlike OC, it does not cause swelling of the throat or lungs. (See the company’s Report of Medical Safety for more information.)
A 5 oz. canister deploys a stream of the gel up to 18 feet with its flip-up safety Reflex trigger spray head, which focuses the gel stream for long range and accuracy. It’s also available in 1.9 oz. (MK-III) and 3.3 oz (MK-IV) flip-top duty belt sizes.
The antidote, Reflex Remove, provides relief on contact and decontaminates the area in five minutes or less. Its speed is based on the fact that it uses safe surfactants to rapidly break down and remove the active ingredients in Presidia Gel. Reflex Remove is available in aerosol or a liquid solution and can be sprayed on or dabbed with a cloth. Relief begins within seconds, and the person can return to near normal function within minutes. The solution also provides relief from traditional CS. (NOTE: Reflex Remove should not be used on other chemicals or combined CS/OC sprays, as it was designed specifically for Presidia Gel.)
Although the active ingredient of Presidia Gel is chlorobenzalmalononitrile, aka CS, it is different from the CS that officers are familiar with, and the gel formula acts differently than CS tear gas. In fact, Reflex Protect and its partners have determined that Presidia Gel is “hospital safe” after pilot testing in healthcare settings starting in 2018.
WHY IS PRESIDIA GEL A BETTER ALTERNATIVE?
A key benefit of Presidia Gel over OC spray is that it goes only where you want it to go – it doesn’t aerosolize and spread to affect the officer or bystanders. This means that unlike OC, Presidia Gel can be used indoors. From a medical standpoint, it also doesn’t cause respiratory inflammation like OC does.
The fast-acting antidote is another important advantage. An officer who uses Presidia Gel can decontaminate the suspect as soon as compliance is gained. No such remedy exists for OC. This means an incident can be resolved in minutes, from incapacitation to clean-up, and there’s no need for extended wait times with a suspect in a sally port or time spent on uniform changes and showering for the officer.
This tool also makes training a much quicker and less painful process, a bonus for officers in training as well as supervisors tasked with scheduling training time.
HOW IS IT USED?
The tag team of Presidia Gel and Reflex Remove enables officers to detain a subject and create a safe environment as quickly as possible. It can be used in the corrections setting to gain compliance for cell extractions or to stop fights, as well as for other uses.
“This is a game changer for corrections, because you don’t have to shut down a whole block of six or 12 cells if you have to do an extraction, and you don’t have to decontaminate a whole section, because the new gel product goes exactly where you’re spraying it,” said Dan Kirby, a detective in northeastern Ohio who has taught firearms and less-lethal weapons courses (including the user course for Presidia Gel and Reflex Remove).
You don’t have to shut down the whole block or decontaminate a whole section, because the new gel product goes exactly where you’re spraying it, he adds.
“I helped train corrections officers using this for prisoner extraction. If you have one prisoner that’s in the block that’s giving you a problem, and you deploy any of those older products, you just sprayed the prisoners in the surrounding cells. There’s no way to get around it. The air circulates, the heat is on, the air conditioning is on, and you just contaminated everything,” said Kirby. “Now they don’t have to worry about it. You’re only deploying Presidia Gel in the area where you need it. Once you get your subject out, you go back in and decontaminate, which is quick and easy, and you’re done.”
In a demonstration video, trainer Matt Schaefer and Deputy Steve Towns show how quickly the Presidia Gel takes effect, with involuntary eye closure within three seconds. Towns, on the receiving end of the spray, immediately closes his eyes and grimaces in obvious discomfort.
The video also shows how quickly the antidote can take effect, as Towns is at first unable to open his eyes but starts blinking within a minute of being treated with Reflex Remove. He is clearly incapacitated, but within a few minutes says that the antidote “was a big relief” when applied.
“That took immediate effect,” said Towns of Presidia Gel. “You couldn’t pry my eyes open with a crowbar.”
The deputy adds that although the antidote also took effect pretty quickly, he didn’t yet feel able to fight. He is sprayed and decontaminated three times in the 15-minute video and reports no cumulative effect.
“Some of the other products still burn” after decontamination, he says, but not this one. “It is fast and efficient.”
A NEW TOOL TO MOVE CORRECTIONS FORWARD
The Reflex Protect products were created to help medical professionals protect themselves inside a sensitive environment, like an emergency department or urgent care clinic.
“Turns out, a spray and decon combo purpose-built for healthcare also solved a whole host of problems LEOs faced,” said Steve Mangold, inventor of the 5 oz. Reflex trigger head and co-founder of Reflex Protect. “Ours is a completely new formula that acts and responds differently than any other spray can. Adding our Reflex Remove decon solution creates a novel and completely winning combination. It allows any front-line professional to spray, detain, decon and move forward.”
Reflex Protect products are designed and manufactured in the United States.