Chloe Jones Arizona Republic (CNT) City News And Talk #arizona
Jerry Sheridan, the Republican candidate for Maricopa County sheriff, hosted around 40 people at his Fort McDowell home on Sunday to watch a demonstration of what he said could be used in crowd control: “skunk water.”
It’s not actually the liquid skunk spray, but it’s designed to smell just as bad.
Sheridan is running against Democratic incumbent Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone. He said he held the demonstration to show how he will address civil unrest, such as protests against police violence that have taken place in metro Phoenix since May.
He said his wife came across the idea when she saw Israeli skunk water use on the internet. According to HowStuffWorks, it was first used in 2008 by Israel Defense Forces against Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank and has been used as a regular form of crowd control ever since.
Three volunteers sprayed four otherswith skunk water in front of Sheridan’s “mare motel,” where his horses Gus and Buck live. Behind the motel is a building that replicates a sheriff’s office of the wild west, and his home sits atop a hill accessible by stairs that overlooks what resembles a set of western film.
The volunteers, wearing shower caps and goggles, satirically imitated protesters, shouting “we aren’t going anywhere!” and “we have the right to protest!” before Sheridan announced an “unlawful protest.” Then, the volunteers were sprayed with the stink.
“It’s like foul, foul garbage that has been sitting in the sun rotting, decaying in a closed tight space and the door has been opened and that smell just comes out. It really overpowering and disgusting,” said Kathryn Butler, who volunteered to be sprayed.
Sheridan: Skunk water could be alternative to pepper spray
BBC reported that skunk water was invented by the Israeli firm Odortec and that the company said that while the chemical agent may induce a gag reflex, it is “100% food-grade ingredients” and is “100% eco-friendly – harmless to both nature and people.” BBC said the smell can linger on the skin and in the environment for days.
It’s a mixture of water, yeast and baking soda, according to HowStuffWorks.
Sheridan said skunk water can be used as an alternative to pepper spray and tear gas when law enforcement needs to control an unlawful protest or riot. He said, if he were sheriff, he would view it as part of his job to control riots.
“The sheriff doesn’t report to the mayor or the city manager. The police chiefs have to report to the city manager and the city council, so they have certain limitations of what they can do,” he said. “I will draw a very definitive line between people being allowed to peaceably assemble and criminals.”
He said, if elected, he envisions the Sheriff’s Office to work with local law enforcement if an unlawful protest or riot were to ensue. He said if local law enforcement needed help with crowd control, they would call the Sheriff’s Office to come and that is when they would potentially use the skunk water.
He said he will protect protestersregardless of their platform as long as they remain peaceful.
“But the minute somebody throws a rock or bottle or injures an officer or someone in the crowd causes property damage, then it’s no longer peaceful. It’s no longer protected by the Constitution and it becomes criminal behaviors,” he said. “That’s when I will declare an unlawful assembly and enforce the law and disperse the crowd. And if they do not disperse in the time allotted, then I will deploy the skunk water and arrest those that remain.”
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said in an email to The Arizona Republic that they do not use skunk water and the method is not policy approved.
Volunteer: ‘It really disrupts your train of thought’
Sean Erickson, one of the volunteers, said it smelled like the black water tank of an RV that hasn’t been cleaned out in a week. If used at a large scale with canisters that are approved for law enforcement rather than civilians, he thinks it could be an effective form of crowd control.
Butler said she came out to volunteer because “I love this country and I’m a lover of law and order.” She said she thinks this method could be effective in a crowd control that could please “both sides.”
“It really disrupts your train of thought, trying to keep your composure and keep yourself from throwing up,” she said.
Some of the attendees said they were previously involved in the Sheriff’s Office’s citizen posse of volunteers who assist law enforcement while it was under Penzone’s predecessor, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, including Stephen Bailow and Jeff Laforet.
Laforetsaid something more visible, like a stain, should be added to the water because people would have to go to work with a stain on their skin if they were unlawfully protesting.
Both Laforet and Bailow left the MCSO Posse when Penzone became sheriff, and both said they would return if Sheridan is elected. Sheridan worked in the Sheriff’s Office for 38 years and was Arpaio’s right-hand man for the last six years of his career.
Sheridan provided volunteers with a blue liquid soap that he said would remove the stinky water. He said it got about 80% of the smell off, but that the volunteers would likely smell for a few more days.