Frontline Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) employees are now able to take training to safely and effectively use pepper spray in emergency situations, with the goal of being better able to protect themselves in the field. The training also includes instruction on situational awareness. The new program was created by legislation filed by State Senator Steve McClure (R-Springfield).
“Frontline DCFS employees need to be able to stay safe while they work to protect vulnerable children and families,” said Senator McClure. “I hope this program gives them vital tools and information that they can use to help protect themselves.”
Recently, Senator McClure was able to take the training course along with DCFS employees and Rodrigo Remolina, the Acting Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs for DCFS. They were trained in how to properly deploy pepper spray against an attacker, as well as how to safely carry the products. They were also sprayed with pepper spray to learn how their own bodies would react to it, so that they can be ready for situations where they deploy pepper spray in self-defense, but wind or other factors cause them to come into contact with the spray.
“Pepper spray is a serious tool for self-defense, and very painful for attackers who are sprayed,” said McClure. “If pepper spray can give an investigator even a few extra moments to escape a bad situation, it could prevent a tragedy.”
In 2022, McClure’s legislation was signed into law, requiring the Illinois State Police to develop a training program for DCFS employees on the proper usage of pepper spray for self-defense. The legislation allows DCFS employees who complete the training to carry pepper spray while on the job. McClure had filed the legislation in response to the deaths of DCFS investigators Pamela Knight and Deidre Silas, who were both tragically killed while on the job. Silas was a constituent of McClure’s.
“DCFS is grateful to Senator McClure and the sponsors of Public Act 102-0990 for their support and commitment to keeping our child protection investigators safe,” said DCFS Director Marc D Smith. “When he attended our training in Bloomington, Senator McClure received firsthand experience with just how potent the OC pepper spray is, even from a distance. This training is critical to ensure the safety of our staff and those we serve and we’re grateful for Senator McClure’s support in these efforts.”
Senator McClure took part in the training session in Bloomington on March 24th.