I have been a member of the CDU (Civil Disturbance Unit) teams in two large agencies over the years and have worked a bunch of riots and protests from to small and large. Unfortunately, I have also been “spot-lighted” (literally… like hey let’s focus in on this part of the video) by CNN during the College Park riots in Maryland in 2010.
I then became an instructor and taught Riot Control classes to entry level recruits.
We have issues with the way officers have been trained in this area. Our training has been ineffective which caused confusing marching orders. That has resulted in unnecessary liability for the agencies and most regrettably personal injury to the officers.
We have all seen what has been happening both nationwide and worldwide during riots.
LET ME BE MORE CLEAR …
Officers are being trained to remain stoic with that ‘thousand-yard stare’ and not to take any independent action. They are trained to wait for direction from some supervisor to the rear. That idea is being drilled into their heads over, and over, again.
That is in stark contrast to the way officers have been taught to handle encounters like subject stops: Maintain an interview stance, at two-arms-length when speaking with a subject and a tactical “L” with a contact and cover officer.
We all know to watch the hands and not let anyone get too close to you. But, we throw all that out the window when it comes to CDU responses and guidelines.
WHO DECIDED TO THROW-OUT ALL OF OUR BASIC SAFETY TACTICS?
I remember a time when officers were told to put tape over their name tags and not to let anyone get through the ‘line.’ Officers were told to look for the agitators in the crowd. Identify them and arrest them. “If they get too close, give them a straight (baton) strike.”
More advanced lessons revolved around officer-down rescue techniques, use of horses, deployment of tear gas and other less-lethal munitions.
What has happened to the training over the past 20 years? Has it gone stale? Is it simply outdated? Have we not changed enough to adequately adapt to these incidents?
I judge the answer isn’t that clear-cut. From our experiences over the years, advances in technology and lessons learned, we should have been addressing the major issues we have been seeing first-hand.
A DOSE OF THE REAL-WORLD, PLEASE
I can speak vaguely about an incident involving an officer and how he recently responded to a police agitator at a ‘protest.’ Simply said, a certain Command-level officer attempted to contact the protest organizer. The protest was intended to be a small-scale event aimed at another agency’s police officer along with a private business.
As more and more protestors started to arrive, the supervisor found himself surrounded by an angry crowd. With communication lines being ineffective, the shouting and common intimidation tactics, the supervisor simply walked away. That action created distance and avoided a possible injury or transmission of COVID-19.
As that was occurring, a police agitator followed the officer, cut off his path of travel and bumped into him slightly while holding a protest sign at chest level.
The officer responded by simply asking the protestors to back up six feet of social distancing while guiding them away with a free hand. Of course, this caused the person to start screaming and claiming she was being assaulted.
THE END RESULT?
After several months, the local state’s attorney finally decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the officer with assault. Really.
That sat on someone’s desk while attorneys debated whether to charge an officer with a criminal offense. The officer allegedly guided an agitated protestor who followed him. Once the distance was closed, there was an attempt to intimate, threaten, harass and annoy the officer.
That is only one example of what officers are facing every day in this country.
Meanwhile, the Capitol police officers were being sprayed with bear spray, having gates thrown on them and having to wait over an hour and a half for back-up to arrive. My neighbor recently retired from US Capitol police.
He wanted to be there with his troops so badly that he ignored his light duty assignment guidelines and demanded to be allowed to deploy.
Subsequently, he suffered a broken wrist and later retired while on light duty, while other officers at the agency retired, resigned, were killed, or took their own lives.
OUR POLITICAL LEADERS …
Our politicians need to back the Blue. Instead, their response has been to yawn and look away.
More citizens need to demand more protections for our officers from the politicians. Officers must be allowed to utilize any and all types of munitions and tactics to keep themselves safe and to protect others.
We are in a crazy period for law enforcement where officers are second guessing themselves, being overly worried about civil liability and malicious criminal prosecutions.
The one standing order I have for my officers is this: Just protect yourself. Don’t let anyone get in your face. Unfortunately, I have also supervised officers who were afraid to do even that. Several of them are no longer officers for a bunch of reasons.
… I wonder what the politicians will do when we run out of cops. Hmmmm.
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
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