Crowd Control Strategies

May 4, 2012 — 2,517 views  
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When a group of people comes together to protest a political agenda or promote social causes, the opportunity for violence is a main concern for officials. In the past, riot patrol units would sometimes approach these situations with a militaristic mindset, fully prepared to use force to convince people into submission. The anti-war rally seen at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, featured one of the most violent crowd control efforts employed in the history of the United States. However, today's efforts are far more peaceful, and law enforcement personnel focus on ensuring safety instead of exerting authority to its fullest extent.

Violence isn't the answer
In today's society, riot officials have taken on a more humanitarian title as crowd management units. These officials don't engage in physical battles with protesters or large crowds that have grown unruly. Instead, they attempt to calm people down, using careful strategies to break up movements and ensure the public's safety. Law enforcement personnel use available resources and planning to funnel groups of people into smaller bubbles where emotion may not influence erratic behavior.

Plan ahead to prevent danger
The first step in crowd control is planning well in advance for an event. Traditionally, riots or dangerous crowds form after protests, sporting events or music concerts grow to an unmanageable degree. It's essential for law enforcement personnel to have a firm grasp on the amount of people expected at any given gathering, so officials can employ the help of enough officers to control crowds and improve safety in the area. If law enforcement personnel are deployed to handle activists at a protest, it may be worthwhile to monitor the assembly before it begins to determine any safety concerns, maintaining a sufficient ratio of police to people at the event.

Ground rules and dispersion
It's important to set up ground rules for crowds to follow. If a group is designated to a specific area, law enforcement personnel need to make sure people don't expand beyond that area's boundaries, which could cause the crowd to grow out of control. In addition, when people begin to act inappropriately, it's essential for law enforcement personnel to infiltrate the crowd and isolate those who have the potential to send the movement skyrocketing toward a possible riot. While law enforcement personnel must respect people's right to gather, safety is always a pressing concern and takes precedence in the eyes of many officials.