POLICE Magazine Supplements

Civil Unrest 2017

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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8 S P E C I A L R E P O R T: C I V I L U N R E S T In the last few years, law enforce- ment agencies in the United States have dealt with more civil unrest than they have seen in decades. Since 2008, we've seen the Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter, and a number of other activist groups take to the streets in protests, protests that can turn vio- lent. is has been a shock to American law enforcement officers who since the end of the anti-Vietnam War era have been more likely to experience sports- related riots than political unrest. So now American officers are facing a new era of protest, but agencies are still us- ing tactics and methods and training their officers to the standards of 40 or more years ago. I submit to you that the time has come for change in how American officers respond to protests and riots, and that you could learn a lot from your colleagues across the Atlantic. Before I explain exactly what you can learn from the experi- ences of your colleagues in the United Kingdom and Europe, let me say that the current mobile field force model of response here in the U.S. is dated and needs to evolve, but it still can provide a founda- tion that you can build upon. e current basic riot response has often been used as a broad and sweep- ing response to generically resolve civil unrest issues in cities and towns in the U.S. However, it's important to note that not all protests turn into unrest. Every law enforcement officer in the United States swears to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which is a great thing. e First Amendment of the Constitu- tion allows Americans to speak out and peacefully assemble and protest and that right must be supported and safe- guarded by law enforcement. Sadly, the tactics used by American law enforce- ment in response to some of the pro- tests that have happened over the past few years have clouded the lines on how we treat violent offenders and peaceful protesters. It's important that law enforcement response to riots single out the rioters and not trample on the rights of lawful protesters. So we have to be very careful and cautious when using force in a crowd. Knowing how to respond properly is a matter of training. THE HYBRID MODEL T he first thing to consider when setting up a training program to build a civil unrest response team is to select the right people for the job. Not every officer makes a great public order officer, just as not ev- ery officer is capable of being a SWAT of- ficer. Everyone has strengths and weak- nesses, and will react differently under varying stresses or situations. Once you have the right people, you need to give them solid training. Public order training needs to not only cover passive crowd control, but also needs to take officers out of their "com- fortable bubble" so they will be able to deal with extreme and violent disorder in the correct manner. Training on how to respond to pas- sive crowds needs to move away from the umbrella approach of "Helmets On, Sticks Out, Step and Drag movement" and instead needs to get back to train- ing officers to stand the line in their pa- trol uniforms communicating individu- ally and interacting with the crowd. It's important that public order officers be trained to see crowds not as a pack or a tribe but groups of individuals, each person having unique attitudes and intentions. Because public order events can roll over into a number of endless hours and can be physically and mentally drain- ing, agencies need to have enough per- sonnel either on their own or through mutual aid agreements to keep the Specialized public order vehicles carry officers and their equipment to sites where crowd control is needed. PHOTOS: GEOFF PERRIN Beyond the Mobile SPECIALLY TRAINED AND EQUIPPED PUBLIC ORDER TEAMS HAVE PROVEN TO BE EFFECTIVE IN QUELLING RIOTERS WHILE ENSURING THE RIGHT OF CITIZENS TO PEACEFULLY PROTEST.

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