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Las Vegas Criminal Defense

Police Use of Spit Hoods/Masks


Spit hoods: they are used by police departments across the country, including here in Nevada, to protect officers from being spit on or bitten.  It makes sense that police wish to evade saliva projectiles—but there are concerns about the safety of these hoods.

What do Studies Say? 

There is a body of research indicating that even the most heavy -duty spit hoods are easier to breathe in than N95 masks, and people involved in the studies could breathe despite artificial saliva being sprayed on the hoods. But these studies lacked a critical element: the chaos and stress associated with a typical arrest. Subjects in the study were not upset, hadn’t just run from officers, hadn’t resisted arrest, and hadn’t experienced tactical maneuvers to get them under control.

More About Spit Hoods 

These hoods are essentially just mesh sacks, sometimes with material similar to that used in medical masks on the bottom, and an elastic ring on the opening. The mesh is designed to allow wearers to see and breathe, while containing any fluids that may be ejected.

Although they are considered to be simply a restraint, like cuffs or leg irons, and not a use of force, there are indications that when hoods are used in conjunction with other uses of force, such as strikes, takedowns, pressure points and more, they can have serious consequences.

And there are other factors that might make hoods more perilous for wearers.  People who are using drugs or who are experiencing a mental health crisis likely have elevated heart rates and restricted breathing.

Descriptions from Real Users 

What do those who’ve been forced to wear spit hoods outside of a controlled environment have to say about them? It is frightening, they say, and makes the wearer feel as though they could lose consciousness under the wrong conditions. Because saliva is thicker than the artificial substance used in studies, and because arrestees in hoods may bleed or vomit, breathing can be much more difficult than the studies suggest.

 Death Connected to Use of Hoods 

Over a period of one decade, over thirty in-custody deaths occurred involving people who were wearing spit hoods.  The hoods were used in concert with tactical moves or weapons, including hog ties, stun guns, and pepper spray, worsening the issues that can lead to injuries and fatalities. These facts bring to light the seriousness of decisions made by law enforcement as they work to arrest and restrain Americans every day.

The Defense You Deserve 

The United States Constitution tells us that every American is entitled to a defense. At Lobo Law in Las Vegas we take that mandate seriously.  To discuss your case with an experienced and dedicated Las Vegas criminal defense attorney, schedule a confidential consultation today.



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