Local pepper ball firm makes one last hurrah

Representatives with the Westminster-based Security With Advanced Technology (SWAT), a company that supplied pepper ball guns and ammunition to law enforcement during the Democratic National Convention, announced on Monday that they were officially changing their business name following a merger with California-based PepperBall, another manufacturer that specializes in crowd-control weapons with pepper spray irritants.

Although SWAT will now be known as PepperBall Technologies, the Colorado business went into obscurity with a bang, using a press release announcing the moniker trade-off to hype a new “Hot Shot” personal defense product that shoots a cloud of super potent chemicals:

The PepperBall HotShot is a compact lightweight device that effectively disables an attacker from a range of approximately 12 to 15 feet, designed to allow the user time to escape unharmed. Upon firing, the HotShot releases a powder based inhibiting substance which disperses as a cloud in the immediate area of the assailant. The effect is similar to pepper spray or Mace, but the HotShot powder substance is many times more potent, causing disabling irritation and discomfort to the eyes, nose and throat.

PepperBall’s most lucrative federal government contracts in 2007 were with the U.S. Customs Service (border patrol) and the Bureau of Prisons, when the company raked in a grand total of $828,652, according to the Web site USAspending.gov.

In light of recent news that federal correctional officers at a Colorado prison used more than 300 pepper balls to quell a large prison riot in April, will it now be PepperBall that ends up restocking the ammo?

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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