TRENDING Training for Bike Unit Supervisors

ment over longer distances. The supervisor familiar with this tac-

tic also understands this is not a passive movement, that your squad will be mov- ing toward and potentially contacting the crowd. Not understanding this tactic could lead a supervisor ordering offi cers to take an action he/she did not intend. Evaluate the protective gear the police

cyclist has. There are products out there that are at least as effective as the tradi- tional turtle gear and more protective that are designed for riding a bicycle. This protective equipment becomes necessary when violent demonstrations become mobile and response and support from traditional hard squads or foot offi cers becomes diffi cult or non-existent. Having well equipped and trained bike squads will give supervisors the ability to maintain a police presence with mobile groups, and therefore provide a key deterrent to prop- erty and violent crime by demonstrating a preparedness to take action.

Crowd Types and Psychology There are a number of articles and books that go into the different theories of crowd psychology. Supervisors need to have at least a basic understanding of crowd types and crowd psychology can provide strategies to keep these events and groups peaceful, and minimize the need for larger and more involved responses by law en- forcement. Understanding crowd types as to whether this is a spontaneous event, or a planned event will let the commander best prepare for how to effectively deploy bicycle resources. Clearly, a supervisor will need to as-

sess the specifi c crowd, the overall tenor, and any concerns about specifi c agitators within the crowd. However, a basic overall understanding of crowd dynamics serves as an essential starting point. For example, spontaneous events. A large celebration involving several thousand party goers after a National Championship of the city’s sports team has taken over a street. Under- standing the potential impact the ‘crowd’ will have on the ‘individual’ will give su- pervisors the strategy necessary to manage the event. One theory suggests the anonymity of

the crowd affects the individual’s identity in a negative way. The individual will en-

56 LAW and ORDER I April 2016

Supervisors must understand federal and state laws and departmental policy concerning crowd control.

gage in behavior that he/she would not normally be inclined to, such as violent, anti-social behavior, as he/she takes on the lowest common denominator of the behavior of the crowd. One or two isolated criminal incidents within the crowd could lead to widespread violence and property damage. Many individuals describe get- ting ‘caught up in the moment’ and do not think about personal norms and repercus- sions their actions will have. Supervisors deploying offi cers to ef-

fi ciently manage minor violations and/ or crimes in small teams bringing conse- quence to an individual’s actions will take the anonymity of the crowd away from the individual. These overt acts of enforcement will re-enforce consequences of an indi- vidual’s action and reduce the chances of the crowd contagion from taking place and will probably be a very effective strategy. For another example, consider planned

protest events. The supervisor has an op- portunity to have an impact on what type of crowd contagion effect the group will have. Planned events will sometimes be orga- nized with common beliefs, goals, and rules coming from within that event. The SIDE Model of de-individuation would suggest that the identity of the ‘group’ will deter- mine the identity that the individual will have under the infl uences of the crowd. If the identity of the ‘group’ is promoting rules and lawful behavior, then the effect on the individual, generally, will be to follow those rules and to behave lawfully.

If the identity of the group is promoting violence and criminal acts, the outcome of individuals’ actions under the infl uence of that group will likely be the same. This would lead the supervisor to see the im- portance and benefi ts of being an involved stakeholder in a group planning a large demonstration, and work with the group to promote lawful behavior. The demands of law enforcement have

never been greater. Having to respond to and manage quickly evolving, coordi- nated, dynamic, and sometimes violent demonstrations and events is a reality that can happen in any jurisdiction with little to no notice. The evolution of the role of the police cyclist in crowd management gives the supervisor a tool with many distinct advantages in meeting these challenges and expectations. To take full advantage of this asset requires those who command a bicycle unit to have an understanding of the bicycle unit tactics, to understand crowd-related law and policy, and to have a basic understanding of crowd behavior.

James Dyment has been a sworn law enforcement officer with the Seattle Police Department for over 23 years. He developed their fi rst training program for Demonstration Management for the Police Cyclist stemming from the 1999 WTO, and currently leads the department’s training cadre for police cyclists.

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