Like any other professional skill, the ability of law enforcement to respond to outbreaks of mob violence, especially as a unit, needs to be practiced in real time. A mock prison riot exercise provides experience for police and correction officers, improving response to unrest in an enclosed area.

Mock Prison Riot Training

The annual MPR is a law enforcement and corrections expo, training, and qualification experience where volunteer “inmates” act the parts of unruly inmates turned rioters at the decommissioned state penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia. The MPR also highlights the latest technology at the co-located exposition in addition to training scenarios, technology demonstrations, evaluations, certification workshops, skills competition for the hundreds of law enforcement and corrections officers from all over the world.

What we see on the video is enthusiastic orange-clad role-players on an enclosed basketball court acting as disruptive inmates who start with shouting and posturing against the approaching line of heavily protected corrections personnel intent on restoring order. Preceded with a sustained barrage of .68 caliber PepperBall powder training rounds impacting at the feet of the rioters that in a real threatening situation would have released a powerful cloud of PAVA dust, the trained Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT) protected by acrylic shields, Avon respirators, gas projectors and less lethal launchers moved to contain the rioters.

Footage shows a few inmates obeying the shouted commands of the CERT, lying on the ground. Officers took them into custody. Conversely, a couple turned their taunts into fury, hurling themselves into the approaching phalanx. After a brief but vigorous struggle, each of the orange-suited combatants were quickly and effectively subdued, ending face down and hooked up. A potential hand-to-hand engagement quickly changed with rioters and CERT members face-to-face. They slapped backs and shook hands, reassuring the other following the training. Not normal for a real prison riot, but standard for any of the many similar scenarios run several times a day at the annual Mock Prison Riot.

Defending Against Threats

The biggest unknown when engaging a crowd or during an interaction with just one person is defending from possible threats. If a subject or crowd stops being peaceful and cooperative and suddenly begins to be belligerent and hostile by displaying aggressiveness ranging from passive resistance to lethal violence, now both law enforcement and civilians have a wide variety of self-defense options including less lethal irritant sprays, gases or dusts that can be distributed from a variety of delivery systems. The PepperBall Technologies Inc. offers a variety of less lethal .68 caliber projectiles similar in appearance to the commercial projectiles loaded with water-based paint for marking and competition.

The PepperBall projectiles include impact, glass breaking, training (filled with either paint, water, or baby powder) and irritant rounds that contain either a 0.5% or 5.0% PAVA solution (also known as Capsaicin II, a natural capasaicinoid found in pepper plants) for individual or area saturation. PepperBall also produces a comprehensive line of projectile launchers for law enforcement, with one of the most popular being the TAC-SF launcher that can propel the entire line of PepperBall projectiles in semi-automatic, three shot or full auto at up to a dozen .68 caliber projectiles a second at targets 60 feet to over 150 feet away. The TAC-SF has a under barrel, forward mounted rechargeable high pressure compressed air tank and 180 round hopper that offers quick reload capability.

PepperBall’s Civilian Variants

PepperBall also offers less lethal self-defense projectors for civilians using the same irritant dust filled projectiles used by police. The cartridge-powered, single-shot PepperBall COMPACT runs off CO2. It looks like a fat cigar tube, but it shoots a single .68-caliber SD round filled with powerful pepper dust. The effective range measures 30 feet. It provides opportunity to escape and evade a threatening criminal act. It also provides a measure to stop an assault without using deadly force. The CO2 cartridge and fresh PepperBall reloads using the available refill kit.

Also available is the multi-shot PepperBall Mobile that is a LED flashlight/red LASER projector and .68 caliber projectile launcher. Each Mobile can place three projectiles out to forty feet aimed by the LASER giving protection from multiple attackers from a very innocent-looking path-illuminating device. The PepperBall Mobile is powered by CO2 cartridges that, as the projectiles, can be replaced by the user. For more information, please visit and PepperBall Technologies, Inc. at

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