U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Civil Disturbances

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 59 Issue: 10 Dated: (October 1992) Pages: 138-145,149
Date Published
9 pages
Collective violence and civil disturbances constitute an unfortunate part of the American landscape and a matter that law enforcement agencies must be prepared to handle.
The trend toward relatively spontaneous and destructive riots with indefinite or scattered focus is one of the most serious problems facing police officers. Disturbances typically begin with predominantly minority, economically-frustrated individuals who perceive they have been deprived of the privileges, rights, and powers of other citizens. Individuals in these circumstances often develop a lack of respect for the law and for law enforcement officers. The triggering incident often involves a confrontation between a minority group member and a police officer. Once a disturbance gets underway, it usually escalates rapidly and becomes difficult to control. The key to preventing civil disturbances involves a law enforcement organization that is fair, impartial, and efficient. In addition, law enforcement agencies should make a concerted effort to establish ongoing relationships with fraternal, professional, and religious groups in the community. The prevention of civil disturbances also largely depends on an effective and reliable citizen complaint review process. The preparation law enforcement agencies need to deal with disturbances is discussed, along with appropriate initial responses, command options, use of deadly force, and deactivation after a disturbance has been brought under control.