With the school year around the corner, a Montana start-up is working to get their invention in classrooms across Montana. They say the non-lethal product is more effective than pepper spray.
Ben Gladwin, the assistant chief of the University of Montana Police department and education director for Reflex Protect, says the spray is better than pepper spray when it comes to stopping an active shooter.
"I was skeptical at this, I've been a Taser instructor and I've been Tased as a police officer. I've also been exposed to pepper spray numerous times," Gladwin said.
According to Gladwin, the spray affects the person immediately. When he tried the product himself, "It hurt so bad, I wanted the pain to stop."
The product's website says it uses the same chemicals found in tear gas in an easy-to-use spray bottle, causing: "Temporary blindness, an intense burning sensation, and inflammation of the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs debilitate the attacker, giving you time to escape and get help."
Reflex Protect CEO Joe Anderson says not only can Reflex Protect help in active shooter situations in schools, they also have a version for hospitals. Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula already keeps some of the spray on hand.
Anderson says the hospital version is easier to clean-up after being used, so hospitals can quickly clean up and keep taking care of patients. He believes the spray is "a good alternative to a loaded handgun in a nightstand drawer."
Long before Anderson became CEO of Reflex Protect, he was a lawyer in San Francisco. His law firm, Pettit and Martin, was the scene for a 1993 California street shooting that killed eight and injured six.
Anderson says the experience was traumatic, and the only thought he had when he learned about Reflex Protect was how helpful it may have been at the time of the 101 California Street shooting.
Reflex Protect is in contact with Hellgate Elementary in Missoula and the Polson school district. They say the schools will be test-implementing Reflex Protect in August.
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An officer recently trained on one of our first Reflex Protect sessions, carrying a pocket Presidia Gel on his duty belt, chose to use it when responding to a potentially violent domestic dispute on the 4th of July. Faced with a size and strength disadvantage of an inebriated man, who ignored repeated verbal commands, the officer unholstered his Reflex Protect.