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10 current violations of crowd control protocols and what to do about them

It is difficult to watch agencies allow their elected leadership do things that violate established tactics


Police officers in protective gear stand by in Times Square during a protest in Manhattan in New York, Monday, June 1, 2020.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

As a career-long practitioner and trainer of crowd control it has been difficult to watch agencies over the past several weeks allow their elected leadership to do things that violate established crowd control tactics. Here is a list of 10 violations along with suggestions on what to do about each.

1. some Mayors believe defunding the police is the solution

Defunding police is the pipe dream of every anarchist and many elected officials have signed on to placate the mob.

What to do: If your mayor or council is considering such a move, you only need to point to the aftermath of limited police defunding in New York City for proof of what lies ahead for the cities that defund and dismantle their police departments. As many people have been shot to death in New York City from January to August 2020 as were shot to death in all of 2019. In response to crime spikes in Minneapolis, the police department released guidelines on how to be a good victim.

Leaders in smaller jurisdictions might say, “Yes but we are not New York City or Minneapolis.”

At that point, police chiefs need to be blunt with their mayors saying something like, “Respectfully your honor, we may not be plagued by as many shootings as New York City and Minneapolis, however defunding will lead to a precipitous drop in all enforcement activities. Traffic studies show that a sharp drop in impaired-driving arrests will lead to a sharp rise in alcohol-related traffic deaths and injuries. If that happens after defunding I will consider it my duty to inform the public of who was responsible for this foreseeable outcome if radical defunding of the police department is passed without at least a voter referendum.”

Then document the time, date and exact content of this discussion and send a copy of this documentation to the mayor and city council president.

2. some Leaders believe wearing protective gear is confrontational

Not only some mayors, but also some chiefs and sheriffs believe the media narrative that protective equipment and crowd control tactics are in themselves confrontational. This sentiment may have led to 49 Chicago officers being injured after they were pummeled by rioters who fired frozen bottles of water at the unprotected officers assigned to protect a targeted statue.

What to do: Leaders must understand that at every potential confrontation, those present can choose to:

  • Fight
  • Flee
  • Posture
  • Negotiate
  • Submit.

When a fully equipped and properly trained team of officers arrive at a scene occupied by demonstrators with a history of violence, their arrival is not confrontational. It is powerful posturing, which has proved many times in the past to prevent confrontations. However, if the crowd initiates violence, the team is ready to defend their community and themselves.

We wouldn’t send employees into a construction site without training and protective equipment, so the idea that we would send officers to a civil disturbance without training and protective equipment is negligent beyond belief.

3. some Mayors think they need to micro-manage these events

This is the biggest mistake being made nationwide. Just because a mayor wins an election, they do not assimilate instantly the knowledge and experience needed to effectively manage a major civil disturbance.

What to do: Police leaders must convince their elected mayors that their agency, when untethered, can defensibly diffuse a large disturbance with their trained team whose commander must be given the authority to do what needs to be done to protect the community and prevail against a violent crowd.

The best way to convince a mayor of this is to invite her or him to attend a large group training not only to see what the teams are capable of but also to learn why the tactics are employed and how they work.

4. some Mayors and governors believe standing down will prevent violence

By now it should be apparent to any elected leader that ordering police to stand down in the face of a riot not only increases the damage but also prolongs the duration of a riot.

What to do: After giving a mayor examples of bad results of this bad decision explain that the heart of their city is like a dry forest and a trouble-making leader is like a cigarette butt. If your people are allowed to handle problems as they develop, it is like putting out the cigarette butt to prevent the forest fire. If not, the forest, (the heart of your economic community) will be engulfed in a conflagration.

5. some Mayors believe abandoning a police station prevents violence

There is no instantaneous violence multiplier so contagious as a visible, rapid police retreat from a station house.

What to do: There can be no compromise. A line must be drawn and held at police departments, city halls, courthouses, etc. These symbols of law and order will always be targets of anarchists and must be held at all costs.

6. some Mayors believe less-lethal munitions and chemical munitions are excessive force

Mayors and councils are banning police use of less-lethal munitions and chemical munitions because they have the misconception that the use of them equates to excessive force.

What to do: Your trained grenadier/trainer must educate the council and the mayor’s office of the fact that these tools are effective alternatives to deadly force. Without them, officers may have to shoot an assaultive person armed with a bat, brick, spear, knife or Molotov cocktail, as these items can cause death or great bodily harm and are commonly used in civil disturbances.

In contrast, one well-placed impact munition can save the life of one of these attackers by sending them packing, as well as save a good citizen or an officer. The deployment of one canister of smoke can inspire the retreat of many attackers and prevent looting and arson.

There is much footage of examples of this happening. These powerful tools for injury and death prevention must be available and allowed to be used at the discretion of those on scene.

7. Some police believe demonstrating along with protestors is an effective tactic

Leaders may think, “If I drop to a knee, they may love and respect me.”

What to do: The minute you demonstrate with protesters you diminish your role as a law enforcement officer in the eyes of the crowd while simultaneously diminishing your role as a leader in the eyes of your officers. Know your job and do your job. That is all I have to say about that.

8. Some mayors and governors believe that letting rioters topple statutes allows them to blow off steam

Anarchists have no steam to blow off. Their movement has been around long before anarchist Leon Czolgosz assassinated President McKinley in 1901. Anarchists have infiltrated many a cause with willful intent to trigger revolutionary violence. With anarchists, toppling statues are just a start. Toppling the government is their ultimate goal.

What to do: Police leaders must educate mayors and governors about the history of the threat posed by the anarchist movement and why this threat should not be underestimated.

9. some Mayors, councils and prosecutors are supporting violent rioters

Some mayors, council members, national political leaders and prosecutors are facilitating and even supporting rioters.

What to do: A toast once used by this nation’s founders was, “United we stand and divided we fall.” These large events are so huge, they beg for a multi-partner response. It behooves leaders to forget about their party and remember the oath they took to defend their constituents. A coordinated response must include local, county, state and federal law enforcement responses and sometimes the National Guard, as well as coordinated cooperation with the corresponding prosecutors’ offices.

There is only one response to mayors, prosecutors and council members who openly support and facilitate rioters and looters. Recall votes must be organized and held as soon as possible to remove these impediments to public safety from the offices they currently hold. This effort should be led by the friends of law enforcement rather than law enforcement itself, but it must be done.

10. Many political leaders are laying the blame for George Floyd’s death on law enforcement officers in general

Officers nationwide are being maligned and mistreated not just by the “ACAB” crowds but also by mayors and the media.

What to do: Chiefs and sheriffs need to proclaim loudly to everyone involved in this injustice, “One officer is facing due process for the death of George Floyd, while 800,000 other police officers, who are innocent, are standing accused of something they did not do. This unjust persecution of the entire law enforcement profession is un-American and must stop.” You might be surprised at how many in your community will come forward to echo your demand.


With all that said, if the country loses this battle with the anarchists on the move right now, I would like to pass on this message to the citizens who have counted on law enforcement for protection.

What to do: All freedom-loving Americans who currently stand behind the thin blue line, if that line is collapsed by elected civilian leaders and anarchists where you live, prepare to defend yourselves.

NEXT: How to influence law and policymakers

Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience. Marcou’s awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. Additional awards Lt. Marcou received were 15 departmental citations (his department’s highest award), two Chief’s Superior Achievement Awards and the Distinguished Service Medal for his response to an active shooter. He is a co-author of “Street Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters,” which is now available. His novels, “The Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,” “SWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,” “Nobody’s Heroes” and Destiny of Heroes,” as well as his latest non-fiction offering, “Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History,” are all available at Amazon. Dan is a member of the Police1 Editorial Advisory Board.