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Civil Disorder: Preparing for the Worst

NCJ Number
Sheriff Volume: 46 Issue: 5 Dated: (September-October 1994) Pages: 13,44-47,56
D De Jong
Date Published
6 pages
In response to the likelihood of frequent and more violent civil disturbances, law enforcement agencies must develop effective plans to prevent or at least to mitigate the effects of civil disorder.
There are seven common elements to civil disorders in the U.S.: (1) arousal of a large segment of the population by an incident or community event that is perceived negatively; (2) isolated acts of looting and arson initiated by a small group; (3) widespread acts of civil disruption that overwhelm police; (4) eventual participation by many segments of the population; and (5) general decline of activities after several days due to a large influx of police officers and lack of interest on the part of citizens in affected areas. After analyzing its responses to civil disorder over the past decade, the Miami Police Department identified seven components of an effective police effort to diffuse unrest: time, resources, goals, specialized tactics, plan of action, training, and critique and update. An organizational philosophy concerning the management of civil disorder must be prepared well in advance of the outbreak of unrest; the Miami Police Department's philosophy is based on containment, communication, coordination, and control. Specific areas of concern when planning a police response include civil disorder demographics, procedures, command and control, and personnel. 2 notes