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Confronting Civil Disturbances

NCJ Number
Date Published
6 pages
Civil disturbances and collective violence are two areas that American law enforcement agencies must be prepared to handle. The trend toward spontaneous and destructive riots with scattered focus is of most serious concern to police today.
These disorders generally begin with an economically frustrated, minority population, the members of which are bitter and disrespectful toward established society and authority. The triggering event usually occurs between a police officer and a member of a minority group. The best preventive measure a law enforcement agency can take is having a reputation for fair, impartial, and efficient work. Ongoing relationships with community groups and an effective citizen complaint review process can also help prevent civil disorders. However, all agencies need to prepare for the eventuality of collective violence by addressing issues including training, equipment, intelligence gathering, and media relations. This article details initial law enforcement responses to riot situations, command options, and deactivation procedures.