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Collective Actions and Disorders: A National Study of Law Enforcement Agencies and Activist Organizations: 1980-81

NCJ Number
E Selo; T Regulus; D Smith
Date Published
252 pages
This research compared the goals, behaviors, perceptions, and responses of groups that have participated in collective disorders and actions, as well as the agencies responsible for the regulation and control of these events, so as to increase the understanding of the nature and dynamic process of collective demonstrations, disorders, and violence.
As part of this national study of law enforcement agencies and activist and advocacy organizations, separate surveys were conducted of over 1,600 police and sheriff departments in all regions of the Nation and with representatives of more than 100 activist organizations in 6 major metropolitan areas. The results of these surveys are presented in this report. The surveys determined the extent to which the responding organizations considered collective confrontations to be a serious problem in the present and near future. They also estimated the number and types of events that occurred within the recent past and examined the ways in which police agencies intervened. The surveys also obtained information on the characteristics of collective events and their participants, so as to determine the ways in which such events might resemble or differ from those that occurred in earlier decades. Additionally, information was sought on the most effective ways in which law enforcement agencies might handle the events in their own communities, with attention to ways of minimizing or reducing violence. The analysis of the surveys concluded that the police interventions in collective actions varied by type of event, number of participants, duration of action, and the amount of violence involved. Communication and negotiation with participants did prevent or reduce violence, but the most effective strategies for containing violence were often not used by the police. Other conclusions were that the capacity of police agencies to deal with collective confrontations was limited, and direct confrontation and violence was often a last resort. Policy implications are discussed, and a research agenda is recommended. Appended pilot study of collective actions and disorders in Detroit and an 84-item bibliography