Chapter 4 Public Order Policing
London Metropolitan PD Why was it formed? • Riots were very common response by the working class to repression, and thus a formal police force would help maintain public order • Peel was sharp in how the police were organized, dressed, and conducted their work • Distinct from military • Police chose public support over employing overwhelming force as a means of crowd control • “Policing by consent”
U.S. Police Departments • Unlike London PD in many ways Race riots: • Between 1900 and 1960s PC-R declined. Police rioted with protesters, or did nothing • Many riots were precipitated by police activity • Police not necessarily underlying cause; many cities that had race riots had PDs with different operational styles, yet similar underlying socioeconomic conditions
The 1960s A contentious time • Black militarization movement • Anti-war movement • Civil rights movement Protests became very commonplace during this time, especially on college campuses How were protestors treated by police?
Police “Riots” Police often behaved poorly when dispersing crowds of protestors in their attempt to maintain public order • 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago • 1968 Columbia university (NY) protest • 1967 antiwar protest in LA Often said police “ran wild” during these times
Why do these happen? One explanation: protest situations are tense and fast-breaking, which explains why police “run wild”; it’s impossible to control police in these situations Do you buy this? • Plenty of examples where police displayed a much more measured response to protests • London PD’s handling of protests in 1960s
So why do police “riots” happen? • Riots exacerbate the police culture • You have a large number of people defying a large group of police, and the street cop mentality can take over, leading to violence • Bad policy, insufficient training, and a lack of preparedness can also contribute • Example: 1989 ACT-UP demonstration in San Fran • Protests are often political in nature
Lesson How police should respond to public disorder in a democratic society is unclear • We’d like a professional and measured police response, but police can easily over- or under- react to public disorder