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Cover Story

Tales of the Occupation

In the last six months, police nationwide have had to refine their crowd control tactics to counter a new method of protest.

February 17, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

Strategic and Tactical Responses

That law enforcement's response to the Occupy Movement has been seemingly schizoid at times is, to some degree, understandable. Certainly, appraisals of its responses have been similarly dichotomous, with some characterizing police arrests as precipitous, or their reticence to engage as too soft and lenient.

One West Coast police officer sums it up thusly: "We as the police will be damned if we do and damned if we don't. If we're too hands-off and permissive, it gives the impression that we're ineffective and it emboldens those people in the crowd who might have an interest in exploiting that perceived weakness. On the other hand, if we're too heavy handed, then actions that we take will be misconstrued, mischaracterized, videotaped, and broadcast or cybercast out of context, and we'll take a beating in the press and in the court of public opinion."

The less than homogenous response within the law enforcement community is also predictable, given the varying geo-political environments impacted and the lead-time law enforcement agencies have in confronting OM-generated problems.

Brian Muller, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, notes that the Occupy Movement's proclivity for spontaneous action is a huge concern.

"There is a difference between an 'event' and an 'incident,'" explains Muller. "An event is pre-planned. There is time to gather intel, exploit open source information sources such Facebook and Twitter, and decide what personnel and gear you want in place ahead of time. Within LA County, when we have an OJ verdict coming or a Rose Parade protest, the affected stations coordinate with our Emergency Operations Bureau ahead of time. We know what's coming. But an incident is something that is spontaneous. You don't have as much lead time to get your resources in place. And unfortunately, much of law enforcement's responses to the Occupy Movement protests have been the results of an incident type of behavior."

Tactical Response

One law enforcement tactic that has elicited howls of protest from Occupy proponents has been infiltration of the movement's ranks by undercover officers.

Rich Rosenthal, chief of the Wellfleet (Mass.) Police Department, doesn't feel their pain. "Not to have used officers in an undercover capacity would have been irresponsible," notes Rosenthal. "There was a threat-indeed, the likelihood-of criminal activity. To place uniform officers directly into that environment would have been neither prudent nor useful in the prevention of civilian injuries."

Ultimately the very nature of its oxymoronic title has found all activists associated with the Occupy Movement being asked, then ordered, to vacate venues en masse. Where push has come to shove, a variety of tools have been called into play. One device finding increasing subsidy within law enforcement circles: Sonic blasters.

Previously deployed at G-20 protest rallies and elsewhere, Long-Range Acoustic Devices are enjoying a jump in sales. Emitting beams of sound with laser-like intensity, a "low end" model is capable of generating 137 decibels. Higher end models such as the LRAD's 500X model can reach 149 decibels. Company spokesperson Robert Putnam told the Associated Press that the sound at close range causes most people to experience discomfort, cover their ears, and move away.

Tags: Crowd Control, Oakland PD, Rioters, Occupy Wall Street, Protests


Comments (7)

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

TimFromLA @ 2/21/2012 12:18 AM

Really, we are the problem. Since when was the last time you spoke to your union and asked how many of your brothers and sisters lost their homes because of mortgage fraud? According to the different LEO unions, quite a few. Yet how many detectives who homes were stolen by the banks were ordered to not investigate and arrest the managers for committing felonies? There are a lot out there and since I am not an LEO, I can speak truth to power. I am not bound by some greedy City/County politician or their pogues to remain silent. And that's what the Occupy movement is doing. So by arresting the men and women who are in fact trying to find justice for the crimes the banksters committed, and your bosses tell you to not make the felony arrest, you arrest people committing misdemeanors whose intention is to protect our country?

LEOs out there, grow a pair. Be that man or woman you claim to be and stand up to your pogues and the politicians who have you by your proverbial private parts. Stop complaining about us and do your job and make that arrest. Scared of losing your job? Too bad. You swore to protect and defend the Constitution AND did you know that you are protected under federal law?

18 USC § 4 - Misprision of felony
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/4

Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

Now make the arrests...unless you're too scared. And if you are, leave us alone to educate the people.

Bob@Az. @ 2/21/2012 9:09 AM

timfromla, It is painfully clear that you are not LEO. It's not the Detectives or Uniforms or even the upper Dept. brass that decides who gets prosecuted. Its the DA. Which, if I'm not mistaken, is a political postion. Ask any cop how frustrating it is to work a case and then be told "No way" by a political appointee. Don't want to waste the taxpayers money, too much opposition to bring the case to trail, etc. It all feeds back to lawyers who are afraid to offend someone in power. Go ahead, pursue that case after you've been told to drop it and see how it feels to patrol the local garbage dump. Can we assume the "occupiers" are wealthy enough to not go to work? Unemployed? Being funded by some one else? Got too much time on their hands?

Rick @ 2/21/2012 9:28 AM

Soros has been proven to behind the occupy movement, both in money and in organization. He said earlier this year that the Occupy movement is going to become violent this year. LEO's need to take his warning seriously and be prepared.

TimFromLA @ 2/21/2012 8:38 PM

Bob@Az. And because of that the cops are merely lackeys for the corporation? Why have a law enforcement agency of, by and for the people? Give me a good reason why Halliburton and XE should NOT take your careers and patrol the streets of our city where more than 300 million pay in taxes: sales, property, and so on to fund a publicly run organization like law enforcement when we could get the same results from a private corporation who answers to a CEO or a board of directors?

Alex, I am NOT an LEO. But my taxes pay for the local P.D. and the Occupiers who are unemployed still need to pay rent or sales tax which goes to pay for LEOs and now you're telling me and possibly millions of readers on this site that your oath to protect and defend the Constitution is a farce because of politics?

Then every LEO who has this attitude should resign. Seriously. What then is the difference between a private security firm who would go after the Occupiers and not the 1% and the LEO doing the will of the management who is doing the will of the government who is doing the will of the corporations? Less clutter in between the enforcer and corporations.

Mad at me? Good, do something

TimFromLA @ 2/21/2012 8:39 PM

@Rick, then tax Soros at the level when Republican Gerald Ford was president 74%

John Russell @ 2/25/2012 6:23 PM

Remember the one doctrine that was created to serve all citizens when pilgrims first came to this country; THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES that guaranteed right to assembly--- peaceful asembly.... and seems that is now under scrutiny?

Bob@Az. @ 2/28/2012 1:43 PM

timfromla, Did I say give up? Don't bother? Ignore it? No. Enforce the law. The JOB. Perhaps the "lawyer" slam it a little too close to home? I'm sure the local dept. you "pay" for are aware of your kindness. Hey, why not get the military to do this? After all, we "pay" thier salaries, right........

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