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Philadelphia Civil Disobedience Unit

NCJ Number
S Rocker
Date Published
10 pages
The functions, structure, and personnel of the Philadelphia Police Department's Civil Disobedience Unit are described.
The functions of the Civil Disobedience Unit are (1) to provide advance and updated intelligence for the police administrator on future civil disobedience problems; (2) to initiate contact, including photos and tapes, with organizational leadership, picket captains, and recidivistic demonstrators at the scene of disobedience problems for the purpose of cooling tensions; (3) to make lawful, orderly arrests, followed by forceful prosecution; and (4) to critique and evaluate the various facets of a demonstration after its conclusion. Squad personnel work in civilian clothes at all times. Helmets, nightsticks, and plastic armbands are kept in vehicles, but are seldom used. During periods without specific activities, squad members perform normal patrol duties, assist detectives and the gang squad, and visit schools and neighborhoods where tensions exist and confrontations are likely. The squad currently has 43 members, with almost an equal number of blacks and whites and three policewomen. The squad seeks to recruit officers with a minimum of 10 years experience, preferably in street patrol, who manifest self-control, good judgment, and the capacity to relate to all segments of the public. Training is on-the-job. The effectiveness of the squad in action has not yet been evaluated. The squad appears to be accepted by other members of the department. A local magazine article on the squad is provided.


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