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Rookies get pepper sprayed

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MORGANTON, NC (WBTV) -

Half a dozen new Sheriff's Deputies in Burke County went through the dreaded pepper spray training Tuesday in Morganton.

They not only learn how to use the spray to subdue a suspect, but also how to fight through the pain if a suspect turns the tables and sprays the officer.

"It's gonna hurt," said Penny Grady as she was getting ready for her turn. A direct shot from pepper spray causes intense pain and can temporarily blind a person.

One by one, the rookies stood before Deputy Mike Ollis. They covered one eye but left another exposed as a direct stream of pepper spray went their way.

As part of the training, the rookies then would each have to approach another deputy who was holding a large pad and use hand to hand fighting techniques as if a suspect was trying to get the upper hand.

Only after they show those techniques are they allowed to go to a waiting hose to wash the pepper spray off of their face and out of their eyes.

"We want them to learn how to fight through the pain," said Ollis. "Our goal is for them to learn how to get that suspect into custody and for themselves to go home safely that night."

The training comes just days after a Forest Service officer was gunned down in the line of duty in Burke County.

"It affects us all," said one deputy.

While the training is no guarantee of safety, officials with the sheriff's office say they want all their deputies prepared to do the best they can in any situation.

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