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Civil Disturbance: Is Your Agency Prepared for Incidents?

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 48 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2000 Pages: 127-130
Larkin Fourkiller; Michael Holsapple
Bruce Cameron
Date Published
May 2000
4 pages
Police officers need specialized training to deal effectively in civil disturbances, and steps involved in preparing to deal with such incidents are outlined.
Several major areas should be considered by law enforcement in preparing to handle civil disturbances--planning, management, training, less than lethal options, and after action reporting. Police department policies and procedures regarding civil disturbances should be part of the department's standards. Plans should incorporate a mission statement, the philosophy regarding rules of engagement, mutual aid agreements, contingency plans, and various administrative and logistic issues. In managing and controlling civil disturbance scenes, field commanders should be aware of available resources and have the authority to respond quickly and decisively. Both police supervisors and police officers should be trained in managing civil disturbances, to include scenario type exercises that address the proper deployment of personnel and resources, operational protocols, and response tactics. The use of less-than-lethal options can provide distinct advantages in dealing with hostile suspects and against superior numbers. Police officers trained in small team tactics, complemented by less-than-lethal projectiles, chemical agents, and noise or flash distraction devices, can represent an intimidating show of force. Less-than-lethal munitions include pepper spray and other chemical agents, specialty impact munitions such as rubber and foam projectiles, various types of bean bag rounds, and diversionary devices. After action reporting is a vital part of the police department's civil disturbance response. 1 photograph