FBINAA Magazine Q1-2022-final-v4

Continued from "Public Order Policing in the U.S.: The Crisis and the Cure", on page 9

C urrently, there is no standard regarding public order polic- ing for First Amendment assemblies and civil unrest in the U.S. As a result, a multitude of variations exist among 18,000+ U.S. law enforcement agencies. National standards are critically needed for public order officer selection, training, equipment, tactics, command, and those supporting these operations. This lack of standards has created confusion and misconception regarding public order best practices among law enforcement, the public they serve, the media, and elected officials. A lack of understanding about community tension indicators, crowd dy - namics, and crowd psychology may cause mass demonstrations to quickly devolve into disorder. When untrained or unequipped officers engage in public order policing, unintended consequenc - es often follow. This in turn has led to strained relationships and significant trust issues between the public and police. In 2020, agencies across the United States faced civil unrest at levels not seen in decades. The public witnessed nightly images of the unrest along with widely varied police response to similar events in locations from coast to coast. Pundits provided varied commentary regarding police tactics and response often conflat - ing protest with violent criminal activity that occurred during these incidents. In many instances, the police were criticized for a lack of response, while in others they were criticized for over response. Sadly, some members of the media, advocacy groups, and even elected officials politicized police response in furtherance of their respective agendas. Violent criminal conduct was described as legitimate protest as well as justified by the cause. This gave rise to the perception that police were violating citizens’ First Amendment rights of expression and peaceable assembly when they used public order tactics and force. Police agencies often did not explain their actions in a timely manner allowing those with a political agenda to create false narratives

that negatively influenced the public perception of policing and the specific agencies involved in the incident. A stark example of this was the media coverage of the United States Park Police (USPP) operation to clear Lafayette Park, which abuts the White House complex on the north side of Pennsylvania Ave., on June 1, 2020. USPP had made a tactical determination to expand the perimeter fencing surrounding Lafayette Park. This decision was based on the need to protect officers against injury from violent criminal activity in the form of active assaults on officers that were occurring in and around protest activity. 1 USPP used public order tactics to remove those persons committing violent criminal activity and completed their clearing of Lafayette Park according to their plan. In the after - math, then President Trump walked across the park and held a news conference at St. John’s Church. USPP was accused of clearing the park in order for the president to hold the news con - ference. This report was later proven false, but the damage to the legitimacy of USPP, and policing in general, was already done. 2 USPP’s decision to clear the park of those perpetrating violence was not communicated clearly in advance, and characterization of violent criminal activity by politicians, media representatives and even in law enforcement allowed the incorrect narrative to be created that USPP cleared the park of peaceful demonstra- tors for the president’s political purposes. A lack of national standards that clearly differentiate between response to protest activity, which is peaceful by definition, and violent criminal activity allowed that narrative to take root and perpetuate. National standards will allow agencies to point to clearly defined best practices and to counter opportunistic mischaracterized interpretations of their lawful actions. In short, a national stan - dard will serve to educate not only law enforcement but also the public it serves.

continued on page 11

10 F B I N A A . O R G | Q 1 2 0 2 2

Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs