Stop trouble before it starts

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Riots might not begin at all if authorities could overwhelm “action nodes” as they developed:

Experience has shown that the National Guard is not well adapted to the mission of early containment of a riot. It takes the Guard several days to get into action because when it is called, it is not merely foot soldiers that are summoned but their entire apparatus of logistics and command that must be mobilized as well. Moreover even the hint that authorities are thinking about calling out the National Guard could be seen as a provocative acknowledgement of a riot’s incipiency. Public appeals that the Guard be summoned may therefore amount to a sort of focal incident and do almost as much to choreograph the beginning of a riot as to deter its occurrence. Of course once it gets into action the Guard does seem to pacify full-blown riots fairly swiftly. This fact suggests that sheer numbers of anti-riot personnel may be more important than tactics, training or other variables in quietening civil unrest.

For this reason cities might well consider the benefits of using a civilian auxiliary to reinforce and supplement the police force. Such a force could be deployed rapidly and demobilized just as fast once the trouble had died down because its command infrastructure, that of the municipal police, is always up and running. Of course it is out of the question for police departments permanently to maintain as many full-time officers as might be required by peak load demand. An analogy might be drawn to volunteer fire fighters, who receive training, though far less than their full-time professional counterparts, to enable them to meet contingencies too remote to justify commissioning full-time personnel. The original idea of the militia, as envisioned by the drafters of the United States Constitution, reflected something of the notion that ordinary citizens bore the final responsibility for the security of the communities in which they lived (Dowlut 1983: 93). When not burdened with a command and control superstructure but simply used to supplement law enforcement resources already in place, a modem equivalent to the militia might well serve to stop trouble before it started.

Leave a Reply