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2023 | Book

Public Order Policing

A Professional's Guide to International Theories, Case Studies, and Best Practices


About this book

Successful public order management is critical to upholding democracy and maintaining the rule of law. Negative police-public interactions during assemblies can impact the safety and well-being of citizens and officers, as well as local and international perceptions of police legitimacy. As observed during events across the world, including assemblies in the U.S., Myanmar, Belarus, Russia, and elsewhere, police mismanagement of mass demonstrations often instigates crowd violence and other harmful behaviors. The causes of violence at assemblies are complex and multi-faceted. Failure to understand crowd dynamics that lead to violence limits police effectiveness and contributes to poor officer decision-making.
This book offers an international review of public order management experiences and effective practices. Practical examples, grounded in multi-disciplinary theory and science, offer a roadmap to improve police response and increase safety at assemblies in democratic countries. The diverse content, perspectives, and lessons learned presented in this volume will serve as a useful guide for all people working in the field of public order management, including police officials, policymakers, and researchers. This edited volume was written by and for practitioners, pracademics, and academics to review the complex and demanding task of policing public order.

Table of Contents

Public Order Policing: From Theory to Practice
This chapter describes theories of crowd dynamics and the role of police during public assemblies. Historical crowd psychology theories, which are now outdated but still inform flawed police training and decision-making, are contrasted with recent theoretical developments. The most prominent theory, the Elaborated Social Identity Model (ESIM) is presented, along with current typologies of assemblies and participants. Conflicts inherent in police duties at public assemblies are examined before defining the concept of escalation and examining these processes within the context of policing assemblies. To move the discussion from theory to practice, concrete strategies to avoid escalation and illicit positive public perceptions while policing assemblies are described in detail. This chapter concludes with a discussion of the mindset needed to effectively execute these strategies and achieve a modern, democratic, and community-oriented approach to public order policing.
Bernd Bürger
Preventing Crime at Assemblies
In this chapter, assemblies are examined from a crime prevention perspective. We first discuss how crowds create crime opportunities. We then present three theories—routine activity theory, rational choice theory, and situational crime prevention—that can be used to explain crowd behaviors and develop crime interventions. The RDFC international model and 4D tactic, two assembly-focused crime prevention and training frameworks, are offered to help police improve safety and police–crowd interactions. We conclude with recommendations that will help police take immediate steps to better prevent and respond to crowd-related crime.
Tamara D. Herold, Bernd Bürger
How Collective Violence Emerges and Escalates
The chapter links theory and practice of public order management. Based on systematic observations of mass events where violence occurred (or was feared), an evidence-based model for the initiation and escalation of collective violence is presented. Based on this model, strategic principles for the police management of mass events are described, which are already successfully applied in several countries.
Otto M. J. Adang, Martina Schreiber
Interpretive Regimes of Violence in Action. The “Welcome to Hell” Demonstration During the G20 Summit in Hamburg 2017
The following chapter examines how violence occurred during the so-called “Welcome to Hell” demonstration, which took place during the 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg. Violence during demonstrations is usually explained by building upon concepts, including mass, identity, and emotion. These concepts are each used to analyze unfolding events at demonstrations, but they vary in their inclusion and emphasis on reciprocal dynamics between police and crowd interpretations. It is proposed that an “interpretative regime” with an affinity for violence developed in the lead-up to the Hamburg demonstration, both among the police and the demonstrators, and this perspective contributed to the outbreak of violence. Interpretive regimes supporting violence are based on shared experiences. They arise when the parties involved accuse each other of intending to use violence, which justifies and increases the likelihood of their own violent behavior. During the “Welcome to Hell” demonstration, these interpretive regimes persisted until the day of the event and influenced how police and demonstrators interpreted the actions of each other during the demonstration.
Chris Schattka
Almost Forgotten Experiential Knowledge of De-escalation
In the mid-1980s, a group of experts concluded that those who policed assemblies did not consistently integrate past operational experience in current operational planning, thus those experiences were continually lost and needed to be acquired anew. This includes assessments of the psychological impacts of police tactics on assembly participants and the larger public. Evidence suggests that contemporary experts would discover similar findings. This chapter examines examples of (historic) police approaches that eased tensions in conflict situations at assemblies. The authors identify related de-escalation tactics and training supported by scientific evidence.
Udo Behrendes, Bernd Bürger
The Role of Police in Assemblies: Ethical Implications, Imperatives, and Interventions
This chapter highlights the importance of assemblies for a thriving democracy. As a democratic virtue, assemblies should not be prevented but in fact facilitated. However, assemblies are associated with individual, social, and moral risks for all participants. To help mitigate risks associated with assemblies, the moral expectations of police, including internal and external expectations, and the tensions between them are analyzed. Awareness of these challenges can help police better prepare their organizations and officers. Suggestions for personal and organizational planning are grounded in different ethical approaches and the four classical cardinal virtues.
Werner Schiewek
Differences in United States and German Police Organizations with an Impact on the Policing of Public Assemblies
In this chapter, we explain some differences between Germany and the United States that are relevant to policing assemblies. Some police institutions and regulations can only be understood if one knows a broader context, e.g., the form of government, society, or history, and can thus classify how this may impact police structures or activities. As an appendix, we also offer a glossary that explains some specific police terms to foster the understanding of some technical terms used within the chapters of this book.
Bernd Bürger, Gerd Thielmann, Alan Hanson, Craig Dobson
Police Organization and the Policing of Assemblies in Germany
In this chapter we highlight some aspects of the German police organization and standards that matter when policing assemblies or large-scale events. Hereafter, we will show an example of how an assembly would be policed, using a fictitious case study in a fictitious city. Finally, we will provide a brief overview of cross-border police collaboration in Europe considering assembly or event situations.
Bernd Bürger, Gerd Thielmann
Police Organization and the Policing of Assemblies in the United States
In this chapter, we highlight some aspects of the US police organization and standards that matter when policing assemblies or large-scale events. Hereafter, we will show an example of how an assembly would be policed using a fictitious case study in a fictitious city. At various points, we will also shed light on cross-border police collaboration in the United States.
Alan Hanson, Craig Dobson
Protection of Citizens’ Rights, Public Safety & Police Legitimacy: The Legal Equilibrium for Public Order
This chapter first discusses the constitutional foundation of free speech and assemblies as well as their possible limitations and challenges, especially for police, when executing such limitations. After a brief view of the relationship between the crowd and police, the authors discuss an example of the London Metropolitan Police (Met) to show some decisive decisions (and possible alternatives) which had a lasting negative effect on the relationship between the Met and their community. Finally, the authors shed some light on Law Enforcement legitimacy as well as the concept of “Policing with consent” and underpin with their conclusion the importance of balancing the legal equilibrium.
Jaclyn M. Keane, Anthony J. Raganella
Public Order Policing in the UK
This article highlights the principles of public order policing in the United Kingdom, followed by an overview on relevant legislation and guidelines. Then, the chapter explains the system of public order public safety policing, focusing on the tasks of the overall strategic commander referred to as Gold. After describing some important components of public order policing, the author shows how all those aspects and potential strategies can be operationalised by using several examples and case studies.
Claire Clark
Specialized Public Order Units: Integrating a Community Policing Mindset
This chapter shows how the Unterstützungskommandos (USK), full-time public order units specializing in evidence gathering and arrests during assemblies, have evolved over recent decades. The events that triggered and accompanied these developments are described. The chapter also explains how community-focused policing became an organizational goal, and how it served as the foundation for operational tactics, as well as personnel selection, development, and training.
Bernd Bürger
Maintaining Public Order from a Military Police Perspective
This chapter describes public order management from a Dutch military police perspective. It does so by briefly reflecting on theoretical notions on collective violence and addressing the basis for Royal Marechaussee (gendarmerie-type military police of the Dutch Armed Forces) involvement in maintaining public order in a civil environment. We will discuss the characteristics of such units, their deployment, and the corresponding challenges. Additionally, we will highlight the necessary doctrines that were developed to handle such events. Furthermore, we will show the challenges for military units when trying to establish public order in a hostile/post-conflict environment and underline the necessity of international cooperation in this sector—not only between military units, but also between all units deployed at public order events. Overall, with the explanation of the Dutch doctrine, we hope to contribute to further discussion and to a common use of language when describing crowd-related situations.
Michiel Rovers, Tom van Ham
January 6th: A Challenge for Public Order Policing and Democracy
This chapter allows an insight to the events that unfolded on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. from the viewpoint of a Public Order Commander on the ground. The author first describes the state of law enforcement in the United States before this event, considering the social circumstances, developments regarding training and equipment as well as the territorial specialties. In the following, he describes the day from his point of view, how events unfolded, decisions he had to make and the emotional aspects of such a police operation. At the end of this chapter, the author provides some lessons learned, regarding training, equipment, and communication.
Eli Cory
The “Yellow Vest Protests”: A Challenge for Police and Democracy
This article first describes the challenges that French police faced with Yellow Vest protests, but also for democracy itself, and how the various actors in France have attempted to respond to this new situation. Thereupon, the author analyzes the specifics of this new form of protest. Finally, the author emphasizes the importance of continuous further development of the police profession and further education to adapt to this new kind of protest in an evolving liberal democratic system and society.
Christian Ghirlanda
Public Order Policing 2.0: Addressing the Challenges of the Information Age
Most public order policing practitioners focus on the physical space and the immediacy of maintaining order within it and fail to evaluate the role of legitimacy, narrative space and the impacts of the information age, all of which will be discussed within this chapter. It will examine the sophistication of criminal protesters and how communication is leveraged by them. Lastly, it will highlight strategies and tactics for public order professionals to navigate this new and challenging environment.
Ryan Lee
Intelligence in Public Order Policing
This chapter will provide law enforcement leaders important concepts and tools by summarizing key research and reviewing the fundamentals of the intelligence cycle to help officers lawfully develop crucial intelligence and effectively incorporate this knowledge into all stages and aspects of public order policing operations. Through a case study and real-world illustrations of successful public order intelligence efforts, the chapter will also provide law enforcement leaders critical context and concrete examples of practical steps for developing and integrating intelligence.
Loren (Renn) Cannon Jr
The Importance of Police Public Relations in Assembly Situations
Police operations do not occur in a vacuum, but rather are accompanied by a media public. This public is difficult to understand, consisting of confusing echo chambers, fake news, journalism, social media, and rapid attention economies. Police are obliged to simultaneously explain their own actions and to reinforce the public’s sense of security through the media. This mix becomes a challenge for the police, especially in assembly situations, when there are real-time media disputes about how a situation unfolds and is interpreted. Recommendations are provided to advise police public relations, from a German perspective, on how to position themselves within this media situation.
Jonas Grutzpalk, Stefan Jarolimek
Mission Communication as an Integrative Overall Strategy in Protest 2.0
The importance of operational communication in assemblies is examined using a case study of the operation at Dannenröder Forest, a forest area to be cleared for a highway expansion. In 2020, the Hesse police, along with subordinate public order units from across Germany, managed the situation in Dannenröder Forest for several weeks. First, the new demands on police communication resulting from the use of social media during protests are presented. Subsequently, the importance of Tactical Communication in operations is highlighted using various theoretical approaches and practical examples. The goals, applications, and methods of Tactical Communication are presented. Finally, challenges that arise in the context of protest 2.0 (expansions of protest into virtual space) are highlighted. The multitude of communicative challenges requires effective understanding and implementation of mission communication as part of an overall communicative strategy. [A first version of the article with a different main emphasis was published in Schenk, C. & Bornhausen, M. (2022).]
Carsten Schenk, Michael Bornhausen
Public Order Standards: Moving the Public Trust Needle Forward
The significance of law enforcement having established standards for public order tactics, equipment, and training cannot be overstated. The existence of these standards, or lack thereof, has a profound impact upon police legitimacy and public trust in democratic societies. The authors explore how well-defined public order standards keep both citizens and officers safe and promote positive incident outcomes. Using examples and case studies, the authors demonstrate how public order standards influence law enforcement policy development and minimize risk to officer safety, as well as agency liability and credibility thereby furthering police-public trust. Further discussion is presented on why professionalization and specialization of public order policing in law enforcement matters, especially in countries such as the USA where standards do not currently exist.
Anthony J. Raganella, Jose M. Vega, Peter Davidov
Building an Evidence-Based Training Curriculum for Public Order Policing: A Case Study
Public order policing is a critical aspect of law enforcement, tasked with maintaining peace and safety during protests and other public events. To effectively execute their duties, police officers require specialized training that equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge. However, not all training programs are created equal, and evidence-based training is increasingly becoming the go-to approach for public order policing.
This chapter shows why evidence-based training for public order policing helps improve officer safety and reduce the risk of injuries to officers and civilians. When officers are well-trained and equipped to handle public order situations, they are more likely to act professionally and appropriately, earning the respect and trust of the public. As the demands of public order policing continue to evolve, evidence-based training will remain a fundamental approach to ensure officers are equipped to meet these challenges.
Jason J. Kepp
Public Order Policing: Use of Force
Public order policing is one of the most complex areas of modern policing and requires specialized training and expertise. When police intervene in a protest event, the focus is often on the use of force. While police in other Western countries have invested considerable resources in improving public order policing, American police agencies have long neglected this specialty.
By summarizing historical trends and current challenges, this chapter will provide an overview of the current use of force landscape in American public order policing. Through case studies and real-world examples, this chapter will also provide guidance for police leaders to develop effective use-of-force capabilities that conform with best practices, legal restrictions, and model policies.
Spencer Fomby
Considerations for Personal Protective Equipment for Public Order Policing
The safety of law enforcement officers is inherent in public order events, especially if the event dissolves into disorder. When disorder occurs, law enforcement officers must be protected. A properly trained and protected officer will be better able to make critical decisions during intense situations. This chapter first elaborates on the necessity of specific Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for public order policing and discusses the importance of standards and training. The second part focuses on distinct PPE, including impact protection, eye, hearing, and respiratory protection, gloves and boots, and outer garments, and briefly discusses their specifics and interdependencies. In conclusion, this chapter also emphasizes the role of law enforcement leaders, who must balance avoiding the perception of expecting disorder with being prepared to respond to it (by wearing PPE) and constantly assessing the need for personnel protection.
Jason J. Kepp
Public Order Policing
Bernd Bürger
Tamara D. Herold
Ryan Lee
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