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The current challenges facing public order units

These tools can help your department stay safe while effectively managing public gatherings


Content provided by Rampart USA

The 2021 Global Peace Index recently published that riots, general strikes and anti-government demonstrations around the world have increased by 244% over the last decade – a growing problem that law enforcement in North America will have to deal with face-to-face.

Proper training, department organization and new initiatives in gathering intelligence are critical in helping law enforcement identify and properly manage these events before, during and after they happen. However, when these gatherings turn violent, law enforcement officers need to also be properly prepared and properly equipped to remain effective in protecting the public, themselves and other officers.

Today’s police officers now must respond to a much more organized, visible and energized crowd that can erupt quickly into riots and disorder.
Today’s police officers now must respond to a much more organized, visible and energized crowd that can erupt quickly into riots and disorder. (Rampart USA)

Today’s police officers now must respond to a much more organized, visible and energized crowd that can erupt quickly into riots and disorder. If the gathering becomes volatile, the best-case scenario is that the officer can mediate the situation before it turns violent. This requires new ways of thinking about crowd management and tactics in identifying and de-escalating threats.

DE-ESCALATION​ - THE APPEARANCE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AS A GUARDIAN, NOT A GLADIATOR​

One of the most effective new tactics in de-escalation is presenting law enforcement as non-oppositional in their appearance, as a guardian, not a gladiator. Therefore, we strongly suggest that agencies invest in low-profile protective solutions.

Police officers now have the option of deploying with discreet bodily protection that is low-profile, as opposed to the traditional Robo-Cop style protective gear. This new style of protective equipment can contribute to de-escalation by presenting a non-aggressive posture to the public. Additionally, with every move being filmed and every interaction scrutinized, the reality of what is transpiring can be “spun”, regardless of what transpired. Quite simply, optics can override facts.

Equipment manufacturers have made impressive developments in designing gear that can keep police officers safe while presenting a non-aggressive posture to the public. Our choice of manufacturer and leader in this development is Xion Protective Gear, which provides discreet protection solutions that combine cutting-edge D3O impact protection in a breathable stretch base layer built specifically for the law enforcement market.

Xion Protective Gear’s Discrete Deployment System (DDS) is a full-body protection solution that preserves the officer’s full range of movement and maneuverability. Rampart USA carries three product lines of Xion DDS. All three lines provide extensive protection to your extremities and vital areas, and each has its own features built to suit different requirements.

The PG1 line is a lightweight protection garment built for breathability and maneuverability. It features perforated material that provides long-term comfort for users who may be active during their shifts. The PG2 is a four-way stretch jersey that comes with upgraded back protection and ribcage protectors. And finally, the FR-PG3 top and bottom offer the same blunt impact protection and are made with fire-resistant material. Rampart USA can work with you to help determine which model best suits your unique requirements.

OFFICER SAFETY – PURPOSE-BUILT MODERN PUBLIC ORDER HELMETS

An unfortunate reality is that de-escalation techniques and crowd management tactics cannot always protect against the escalation of an agitated group or those arriving with the intention of violence.

For situations where violence has escalated and there are serious threats of harm to the officer, advancements in head and eye protection have become some of the most valuable gear upgrades in keeping police officers safe. Modern head protection built for public order use has many facets and features built specifically to address the threats and environments of a riot. Repeated blunt impact protection, fire and caustic agent resistance, compatibility with gas masks and eye protection from laser pointers are all key attributes of a modern public order helmet.

When looking at the best solution for public order head protection, we can examine the P100N from Schuberth, which comes in multiple price tiers. This scalable, modular public order helmet was developed with the full weight of the Schuberth research and development team behind it, which specializes in manufacturing cutting-edge head protection for many types of use – from heavy industrial head protection to Formula 1 helmets.

Unlike other manufacturers, Schuberth designed the P100N from the beginning to be a public order helmet. The P100N is purpose-built and guided by extensive research and user feedback to specifically support the public order law enforcement market. A common and dangerous mistake we sometimes see is officers repurposing helmets, like ballistic helmets, that provide ballistic protection but little to no blunt impact resistance.

The P100N helmet from Schuberth combines multiple layers of aramid composite with an EPS foam backing. When the helmet is attacked, the exterior aramid fiber layers delaminate (or separate), dissipating some of the force before it reaches the interior EPS foam.

The process of delamination also means that any damage to the helmet is localized and ensures that the protective ability of the helmet will not be compromised after a single impact. The aramid composite also ensures the highest level of stab protection in the industry. The interior of the helmet is made of specialty EPS foam that further dissipates the impact by greatly reducing the peak spike of energy to the head and brain.

The P100N also protects officers from new and different classes of weapons. The helmet is coated in a flame and chemical-resistant lacquer, and the LPA version of the helmet comes complete with laser protection that can be deployed up and down as needed. It also integrates with the Avon HM50 to provide seamless respiratory protection from harmful airborne agents.

A protected police officer can remain effective and in control. The weapons used against police officers have changed significantly in the past decade, and head protection has, in some cases, lagged. The Schuberth P100N provides the best in technology and features to protect officers at price points that are affordable for most agencies.

NEW TOOLS FOR NEW CHALLENGES - NIGHT VISION FOR PUBLIC ORDER

Night vision is not often thought of as an important tool for public order teams, but new use cases have formed after the emergence of occupational-style protests in the winter of 2022. Many lessons were learned in both equipment and policy requirements for dealing with this new type of protest. Large encampment-style protests present new and unique challenges, where nighttime darkness can limit the ability of law enforcement to maintain effective overwatch, ensure public safety and scan for threats.

When evaluating night vision devices (NVDs), Rampart USA recommends products from Night Vision Devices. Night Vision Devices is a U.S. veteran-owned business that provides high-quality, U.S.-manufactured night vision binoculars, monoculars, night vision parts and service.

The specific product to highlight in the context of public order is the PVS-14. The PVS-14 is the all-around best multi-functional night vision monocular available. Head or helmet mounted, the PVS-14 allows the user to retain their night-adapted vision in one eye while viewing their surroundings through the illuminated eyepiece of the PVS-14.

The monocular form factor and single-eye use also provide better situational awareness for the user if they are scanning large areas of activity. The new battery housing completes the perfect package by allowing the officer to power off the unit when in an upright position and power on when flipped down.

The bottom line is that visibility at night is no longer a specialty requirement. NVDs not only help in identifying threats and tracking movements behind the front lines of a riot or protest, but they also provide a critical command and control tool. If a team of police officers needs to enter the crowd, either to render aid to someone or to remove a serious threat, having overwatch capabilities after dark can be a critical factor in keeping officers safe and effective.

Training is a critical piece of riot management, but success requires the proper training to be paired with the proper equipment. Rampart USA is proud to be partnered with companies that are on the cutting edge of officer protection for the modern landscape of public order.

Contact Rampart USA today to discuss your requirements and learn more about our complete line of public order equipment.

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