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Planning for Civil Disturbances and Demonstrations (From Clandestine Tactics and Technology - A Technical and Background Intelligence Data Service, Volume 1 - See NCJ-77154)

NCJ Number
C M Monroe
Date Published
9 pages
This article outlines methods the Washington, D.C., Police Department employs to deal with both planned demonstrations and spontaneous civil disturbances. Guidelines for handling mass arrest procedures are included.
Both the crowd's size and its disruptive-destructive potential are the major considerations police authorities must take into account in all tactical planning for handling demonstrations. Police agencies must use the least stringent level of force to accomplish crowd control by (1) a show of force of specially trained officers, (2) an ultimatum given for the crowd to disperse, (3) tactical use of riot formations, and (4) selective use of chemical agents. The use of both selected and full firepower should be reserved for critical conditions where no alternative remains. Another consideration in handling demonstrations is a contingency plan in which surrounding jurisdictions join local government agencies in developing and participating in a unified operation. Provisions should also be made for continual review and update of procedures. The police objective is not to eliminate every vestige of disruption but to reduce it to a minimum appropriate level. Therefore, the police must create an atmosphere conducive to a peaceful and orderly demonstration and minimize the opportunity for confrontation. This can be achieved by effective permit negotiations between demonstration leaders and police and local government representatives. Permits must be specific as to time, place, manner of conduct, boundaries, etc. Appointment of demonstrators as civilian marshals: an agreement to mutually review press statements prior to release; and sustained assistance in working out arrangements for electricity, telephone service, and the lease of sound equipment also ensure the peace. Medical services, an escort service for major speakers, perimeter traffic detour plans, and a low profile deployment complete essential planning. If the demonstration becomes a potential riot, provision for a forward command control center, personnel deployment, logistical support, intelligence activities, and casuality capabilities become essential. Guidelines for handling mass arrest procedures are offered to ensure the constitutional rights of those arrested, detained and processed in court. Most police departments should have a civil disturbance unit or special operations team, with personnel possessing a high degree of professional skills, tact, maturity, and sound judgment. Training is essential and should emphasize teamwork and quick response. No references are included.