His face burns, he gasps for air, and his searing eyes squeeze shut—but Dave Young is exactly where he wants to be. That's because getting a blistering jolt of Mace in the face, not to mention being choked, punched and peppered with various projectiles, is all in a day's work for the burly former Marine, director of training for Mace Security International. "I'm the only guy that gets sprayed and then has multiple students try to beat him up and kill him," boasts Young, 35, whose intensity as a demonstrator has become an industry legend in the two years he has been with the Bennington, Vermont-based maker of the famed pepper spray. "I'm the only guy who takes it to that extreme."
For Young and his employer, pain can spell gain. Competing fiercely in a period of falling crime rates—and civilian sales—companies like Mace consider classes for law enforcement personnel one of their most potent weapons. Young and the 75 trainers he supervises teach 20 courses on everything from taking down a suspect to how to function in the critical first minutes after being maced. (Students also get sprayed with the product, which Mace maintains poses no long-term health risk.) "He's the goods," says Sgt. Tom Conlin, 41, of the Las Vegas PD. "People know that when Dave teaches something, it works."
Young says that giving cops a fighting edge helps compensate for the 21 days a month he spends away from the home in Eden, N.C., he shares with his wife, Jacqueline, 28, whom he met when both were Marine MPs, and their four sons. "But I hate getting sprayed," he admits. "I wish my company sold Hershey's Kisses."
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