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Course Catalog

Keeping the Peace: “Police Response to Organized Protests and Spontaneous Disorder Events”

Instructor(s):

  • Kenneth Dugger
    Chief Kenneth Dugger (ret.)
  • Scott W. Phillips
    Scott W. Phillips, PhD
  • Harry P. Dolan
    Chief of Police (Ret.)
  • David W. Linthicum
    Captain Raleigh Police Department (ret.)

Policing in a democratic society requires a balance between individual freedoms and the collective needs of society. This includes the First Amendment rights of a person to protest, and the duties of police agencies to protect property and maintain public order. 

The police response to public protests has changed and improved over time, but the nature of protests has also evolved.  It is important, therefore, that police agencies understand the different protest types so they can appropriately equip the agency with the tools necessary for safely addressing a protest, and train officers to properly respond to these events.

Keeping the Peace: “Police Response to Organized Protests and Spontaneous Disorder Events” training is critical to a law enforcement agencies ability to secure and strengthen its professional reputation throughout the community. The training program combines class lecture and best practices practical exercises all designed to enhance the departments capability and confidence when responding to civil protests and spontaneous disorder events. Based on empirical scholarship in the area of policing and public protests, this course provides a macro-level understanding of the different types of public demonstrations that might occur thereby offering a big-picture understanding of the current police response styles to different types of public protests. A broad discussion of the variations in police response styles that can be employed to best deal with either a planned or spontaneous protest will serve to expand the departments capability. 

Lastly, the course will discuss the role of the police between protestors and their targets. It will identify various interactions between officers and protestors that can aggravate or moderate the subsequent behaviors of both parties. It will also discuss the police administration’s role in influencing the street-level officer’s implementation of protest response tactics.

This program has been developed to provide public safety agencies with broader understanding of the different types of protests and much needed skills (administrative, planning, operational and intelligence considerations) when responding to planned protests and/or spontaneous disorder events.

Upon completion of this course, attendees will be able to:

  1. Explain the different types of public protests.
  2. Describe the broad approaches for how police might respond to a public protest.
  3. Explain the importance of the officer/protester dynamic to a non-violent outcome.
  4. Discuss the role of police supervisors and administrators prior to and during protest events.
  5. Recall the intervention and response strategies used in public protests.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of fundamental verbal de-escalation skills proven effective at deflecting verbal abuse and diffusing volatile verbal confrontations during public protests.
  7. Participate in practical exercises to show a grasp of key aspects of an organized protest response.

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