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Prevention and Control of Urban Disorders - Issues for the 1980s - A Monograph for Law Enforcement Executives

NCJ Number
H J Miron; R Wasserman
Date Published
103 pages
This monograph reviews the Dade County, Fla., disorders of May 1980 to inform police executives elsewhere about issues and problems associated with the prevention and control of urban civil disorders.
Information was obtained from Dade county police on two separate site visits. Questions asked of senior police executives, midlevel supervisors, and line officers concerned the type of plans in existence prior to the disorders, the information system used to assess early warning signs of tension, and the actual police response once rioting had erupted. Answers to these questions were noted and comparisons made with written after-action reports. In addition, meetings were held with groups of officers and other police executives outside Dade County to clarify the perceptions about emerging issues and their applicability to other jurisdictions. The events of the disorder are analyzed in terms of preceding incidents, characteristics of the disorder, and police management problems at the time of outbreak and during the ongoing disorder. The principal issues to emerge from this experience are assessed in relation to the changing social environment, including economic and race relations and institutional changes in law enforcement. Police misconceptions about the level of citizen discontent and official neglect of observable local problems are seen as contributing to the unexpected nature of the events and the unpreparedness to meet them. Future police responsibilities are highlighted, with emphasis on assessing the potential for disorder, responding to such potential adequately, and planning for disorder control. Further, specific measures for dealing with initial disorder activities and managing an ongoing disorder are outlined. It is concluded that the police, although not solely responsible for the causes or prevention of violent outbreaks of the citizenry, are nevertheless in a crucial position to affect both. The prevention and control of disorder must become a collaborative effort among government, citizens, and the police. The police, however, serve as the major catalyst for performing constructive roles to maintain community peace. Both short-range and long-range strategies must be developed by police executives so that their agencies can effectively handle a crisis. About 45 footnotes, and 3 references are supplied. The appendix contains the After Action Report on the Civil Disturbance Emergency Mobilization.