Police and Crowd Control

You’d think after the Capitol Storming and a general year of protests, politicians would be talking about the best tactics in terms of safety and effectiveness in terms of crowd control. But best I can tell, the calls are simply to ban every police tool used.

Police (really through no fault but their own) have trended to no longer using batons. This is a big mistake. Especially as crowd control, they’re great as a deterrent and for keeping distance, which is really important when police are outnumbered. https://www.policemag.com/340095/do-we-still-need-batons

People have called for the banning tear gas. Certainly it’s use should be limited and regulated, but it does usually work at crowd dispersal. If not tear gas, what then? https://www.sciencealert.com/tear-gas-is-so-often-abused-it-should-be-banned-researchers-argue

Last year a judge temporarily banned Detroit police from using batons, shields, gas, rubber bullets, chokeholds or sound cannons against Black Lives Matter protesters. OK, but what should police do when a crowd turns on them? https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2020/09/04/chokehold-police-tactics-against-protesters-temporarily-banned/5721952002/

In LA, there’s been a call to ban the use of police horses as a form of crowd control. Horses are really effective, especially as an alternative to tear gas. If not horses, what is Plan B? https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-01-22/lapds-use-of-horses-at-protest-condemned-by-civil-rights-leaders

New York City criminalized police use of choke holds. OK. (As a citizen, you can still use them.) At the same time, though, they banned pressure on the _diaphragm_ in the course of an arrest. That makes arresting a resisting suspect nearly impossible. https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2020/10/06/manhattan-judge-upholds-city-law-banning-nypd-use-of-choke-holds-in-suit-filed-by-police-unions/?slreturn=20210025111507

DC recently banned OC spray (AKA mace) and all chemical irritants at protests. Also banned were less-lethal projectiles, like rubber bullets. So what does that leave? https://www.npr.org/local/305/2020/06/25/883283633/would-d-c-s-police-reform-bill-have-stopped-m-p-d-from-pepper-spraying-protesters

Police is the US don’t use water cannons and dogs on crowds. That’s our deserved legacy for Civil Rights Era police brutality. But other countries do use these tools, and water cannons can be very effective. But we don’t use them. https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2021/01/riot-police-use-water-cannon-tear-gas-to-break-up-demos-in-eindhoven-amsterdam/

NYPD sometimes claims it doesn’t even know what “kettling” is, which is odd, since they do. Now it’s not technically “kettling” if people can get out, which matters. But kettling is also an effective tactic in some circumstances. Should it never be used? https://www.amny.com/news/nypd-denies-ever-using-kettling-tactic-against-protesters/

If police can’t use any crowd control tactic, crowds won’t be controlled. Eventually the public will say “enough.” But outrage is bad way to make policy. https://nypost.com/2021/01/22/portland-seattle-residents-slam-weak-response-to-antifa/

You can’t ban every tool in the police officer’s belt and then tell police facing a hostile crowd, “OK, now just do your job and don’t hurt anybody.” Inevitable, things like this will happen. https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/article248729060.html

Tasers have a role. But they’re vastly overused. And they are not a silver bullet. They’re also all but useless in crowd control situations. And what happens when Tasers fail? Which is a lot of the time. Then what? https://www.ctinsider.com/news/nhregister/article/Tasers-fail-more-often-than-they-work-with-fatal-15002785.php

People, politicians, and police need to have a serious discussion about crowd control tools, tactics, and techniques. How and when they’re used. How to hold police accountability for their misuse. We need to be having these discussions now, before and not after police face the next angry mob. None of this is happening.

14 thoughts on “Police and Crowd Control

  1. I do agree that we can’t just ban every tool used by the police and then ask them to do there job. But the issue at hand is that many, including those who work and study the criminal justice system, don’t understand what qualifies as an appropriate use of force response as stated within the Use of Force Continuum. I would even argue there are officers who have never heard of even taught what this is and that negligence is what ultimately leads to many cases of possible police brutality which in turn leads to policies like the ones listed above.

  2. Officials in charge such as politicians, people, and police definitely need to take a proactive approach to how police will handle crowd control. Nothing is usually done or implemented until after negative encounters occur. We can’t just ban every tool used by police, but increased training can be implemented so that officers are better prepared for crowd control situations.

  3. if police are not allowed to do their job with the tools they are given, they might as well let every angry crowd just run around and destroy everything around them. because regardless of what police do, they are in the wrong. whether they used too much force with their tools or not enough with little to no tools, someone will always have a problem with how the crowd was dealt with. the problem is not the police but simply the politicians who flip sides simply to gain the publics favor and win votes. to have public order, you have to have some authority maintaining it.

  4. I agree that more over politicians are just limiting the tools a officer can use to safely do their jobs. The public greatly outnumbers the law enforcement community over a hundred fold. So I find it unprofessional of the politicians to make these calls. They don’t our civil servants because they know about the problems on the street or understand how to properly use the tools and know how to teach them. They simply limit our civil servants so they can do better in the polls and the safety of the community doesn’t matter as long as they win another term.

  5. People who do not study the Criminal Justice System are usually the first to have an opinion or demands against what police are allowed to do or not do. For example, the banning of using batons was really unnecessary knowing that it is a tool that police use in order to protect themselves and to not allow others to commit crimes. People calling for the banning of tear gas are more than likely calling for it to allow themselves to commit more crimes.

  6. I agree. A police officer can’t be expected to do their job if all his tools are banned or removed. How can you control a crowd with just your hands. Even then, crowds can contain people with weapons, that can severely hurt or kill someone. If that is present, how can an officer defend himself in that situation. In recent events, BLM, ACAB, ANTIFA and rioters have all caused multiple events of destruction and in the end police officers where still held accountable for everything that happened. Those crowds were not safe at all and for an officer to be told that he can’t carry any single defense weapon or tactic is beyond absurd. There are bad officers out there, but one does not represent all of them. As with anything.

  7. I must agree with the fact that the banning of such items is understandable, but just as a civilian has the right to use such weapons to protect themselves, a police officer should be granted the same, but no one is qualified enough to determine what is safe and what is not.

  8. Banning police tools seems irresponsible and ineffective. However, because some police departments fail to train their officers on when to use them, how to use them, who they can use them on has left many of the country’s police officers with their hands tied. Often times you see in the news that officers used pepper spray on a child or used their taser on a mentally unstable person. Because of the actions of some officers, everyone is punished and the police departments that are supposed to serve and protect have nothing to protect themselves or other citizens with. Massive police reform and training need to be implemented so police officers get back some of their tools that are necessary to do their job.

  9. There is a lot of controversy over police brutality in America today. Many BLM protests, where other crowds attended and caused violence and riot, are indeed dangerous events and there has to be some kind of crowd control. People nowadays don’t want to get hurt and that is the truth. Police are forced with very few options in controlling crowds or riots and taking away more does not mean police are fairer than before. If there is a violent situation going on, then the police should use the appropriate amount of force necessary to control the situation. Getting hurt is a part of life and if taking away discretion from the police is going to make the world a better place, then it sure isn’t going anywhere because the world does not work that way.

  10. I feel that everyone needs to be better informed on police tactics and use of force. When I say everyone I mean civilians and the police alike. We can’t expect any officer to to do their job correctly and safely if all their tools are taken from them. The levels of force were also created to ensure an officer’s safety. Without the tools we are just making officers unsafe and maybe even deterring people from wanting to become officers.

  11. It is sad how police officers are not able to defend themselves especially now with a large crowd of protesters into the Capitol storming their way in with no police tools allowed. When they have tools or not they are still to blame for what they do to the people with smiply having a uniform on. They aren’t even allowed with the things mentioned listed above to keep the crowd under control. Are cops suppose to deal with this type of brutality and feeling everyday they are not going to be able to go back to their families that they can end up dead in any minute. This is a very unfair situation.

  12. There has to be a balance in the approach of controlling the public and not use excessive force. Having to main order means law enforcement officials have to use different approaches. It is not what we can do fast and easy, it is what we can do in the most efficient matter. Though, we have to realize things could get out of control in a matter of seconds, but that is why we need to always be on the lookout for danger and plan ahead for any circumstances. More training, research and strategies should help.

  13. I do agree that Police really through no fault but their own have trended to no longer using batons. This is a big mistake. Especially as crowd control, they’re great as a deterrent and for keeping distance, which is really important when police are outnumbered.

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