This is an odd topic to be found on this blog, but images of the “peaceful protects” that I’ve seen on the nightly news appear similar to watching a dog fight. As an old cop, I am puzzled as to the current state of police officer tactics in performing crowd control.
I entered the field of law enforcement as a military cop in the early 70s. Crowd (riot) control was administered by pushing crowds using psychology; military personnel put their bayonette on their M-16s and used a technique of “stomp and drag” to maneuver the crowd. Stomp and drag was how the military personnel moved, by stomping their left foot forward and dragging their right foot up to their left foot. The cadence was very effect, but hard on the sole of your right boot. Even sheaving the bayonette, it was an impressive sight.
The next iteration was using shield and batons to physically push crowds where you want them. This is the technique that I think police are attempting to use ineffectively because they are missing the most important element of using water cannons. Modern day looters like to set fires, fire trucks are the perfect solution to today’s crowd control. Water cannons (fire hoses) can be used to push rioters back, while putting out the fires that the looters started. I am sure that politics play into the role, or lack of role, of bringing fire trucks in at the start of riot, but wait until the neighborhood is in flames. I have to say that water cannons were the most effective crowd control device of all times. As a K-9 officer, we and our dogs were pale in the face of the effective use of those cannons. Although, I have seen the effect of turning loose a dog to get the attention of a crowd.
As best as I can tell, the current technique in crowd control is what I would refer to as a “snowball fight.” A snowball fight is where one side lobs over a bunch of “snowballs” and then the other side lobs some back. In the old days, kids would cheat by putting a rock inside a snowball; now people put gasoline inside bottles. The side with the most snowballs won.
A rule that seems to be forgotten is in the old days, if you showed up at a snowball fight, you were a participant. Today, we have a new term of “innocent bystander.” So, a person can decide at will if they are an active participant or step back from the action and call themselves an innocent bystander. The media seems to think that if they are in the midst of a snowball fight, they are protected. If you stand on one side, you might get tear gassed or hit with a rubber bullet; but, if you stand on the other side, you get hit with gasoline, fireworks and blinded by lasers. Protesters are cleverly disguising themselves as media personnel in hopes of using that as camouflage to get closer to the police lines.
So, politicians have stepped up to determine the rules of engagement, limiting the types of snowballs that the police can use. So you take away all of law enforcement’s snowballs and you are left with a lopsided playing field. The politicians have not even asked that the protesters put down their maultoff cocktails because they don’t want to recognize that the protests have become violent. As some politicians call it, “A summer of love.”
After we have learned our lesson from the idiot idea to defund our police, I hope that when we restore the police to their rightful place and that we give them the tools to property do their jobs. I suspect that companies that sell riot control vehicles are going to make a lot of money as we look back to our current failure in handling angry mobs. We were ill prepared and the politics worked in favor of mob rule.
If, on the off chance that you came across this blog in a search for your new riot control vehicle. I have found that the water hoses mounted at bumper level appear to be most effective. It is like playing pool in which you put the rioter “in the corner pocket.” These vehicles make is safer for the police and less harmful to the mob.
Since this is my blog, I would like to make some recommendations: paint ball guns can be used effectively in riot control. Police can “paint” the rioters with permanent dye or skunk oil (or both). The dye helps identify who attended the riot and the skunk oil helps the rioters decide if they want to come back the following night. A word of caution, skunk oil will cause the riot area to stink for months, as anyone would know who has driven a country road.