At least two dozen officers were injured late Wednesday night in Memphis, Tennessee in riots. This, after police fatally shot a man who they say rammed police cars and then emerged from his vehicle with a weapon.

Although police have not yet named the suspect, two local politicians and family members identified him as 21-year-old Brandon Webber.

Early Thursday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said that the man killed by the U.S. Marshals Service had been wanted on numerous warrants.

 

The suspect’s cousin, Demetrick Skinner, said Webber was fatally shot and claims as many as 20 shots were fired at him.

His aunt, Yolanda Holmes, said police claim he was shooting at an officer. Holmes said Webber was a Frayser High School graduate.

MPD officers were not involved in the shooting – they were actually called in to assist the Gulf Coast Regional Task Force and the U.S. Marshal Service.

 

Shortly after the shooting, a chaotic scene erupted in the Frayser area Wednesday evening, with heavily armed police facing off against an angry, rock-throwing crowd.

 

Dozens of protesters attacked the police, throwing stones and tree limbs until the angry crowds were finally broken up with tear gas. 

According to Memphis Police Deputy Director Mike Ryall, none of the officers were injured seriously.

Ryall said the area of Overton Crossing and Argonne Street, which is where the attacks on the officers were happening, was considered a crime scene. Crime scene officers spent the night there.

 

State Rep. Antonio Parkinson, a Memphis Democrat whose district includes Frayser, posted a statement on Instagram in the aftermath.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in the incident in Frayser,” Parkinson said. “The Frayser community is comprised of good, hard working people who love their community.  The community wants answers into tonight’s incident. We are asking for calm and restraint by all and complete transparency in the investigation of tonight’s officer involved shooting.”

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland wrote on Facebook that in the violence, at least two dozen law enforcement officers and at least two journalists were injured.  He said damage was also extensive.

“Multiple police cars were vandalized. A concrete wall outside a business was torn down. The windows were broken out at fire station 31.”

 

One of the videos posted online showed a man smashing a chair against a police vehicle.

 

Police reported that they had received a call for assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service earlier in the evening, which later lead to a “tense standoff” between law enforcement and residents after the shooting, which took place in the Frayser neighborhood.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) also responded, according to local media.

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All across America, we’re seeing a rise in public unrest and more and more violent protests and riots like this.  At Law Enforcement Today, we’ve seen the growing threat… and so we’ve partnered with Government Training Institute to bring advanced training and protection to our law enforcement officers across America to help  keep them safe.

Many agencies are opting to stand up specialist units that employ new tactics based on intelligence and work to pre-empt issues by building dialogue and rapport with groups.

Others have relied solely on more “old school” confrontational tactics, which can often result in negative reaction and consequence that ends up having world-wide coverage.

Both sets of tactics have their place in the tool box of crowd management, but both options will always work better as part of a holistic approach. That more rounded approach is known as Public Order Management (POM).

A definition of Public Order Management:

“The systematic planning and steering of events in the public domain, or with a direct effect on this, where there is risk of public order disturbances, regardless of the number of people that are present at or involved with the disturbance”.

In literature they speak of maintaining order in public spaces and use the term “public order management”. This term is being used to describe organisations with the task of public order, their policies and programs, their individual and collective policing operations and the technology they use (McPhail, Schwingruber & McCarth, 1998).

POM was developed using the most current practices in Crowd Behaviors and Personal Identity; using TTP’s coming from the highest levels of experience of internationally recognized police practitioners, academics and scientific research in the field.

The focus and emphasis should therefore be on managing and maintaining the order and not get persuaded to focus on managing a disturbance; the preferred option should always be to allow peaceful protest.

Protesters start fires in Portland, Oregon. (Screenshot – YouTube Daniel V. Media)

 

The bedrock of this system is the gathering of information and intelligence to allow all parties involved to work to keep the peace. This affords agencies a way to plan, steer and act on what information is available to them ahead of the event.

Much of the information that is available is easily obtained and can make a significant difference not only when, but preferably before, it matters.

By properly setting up the POM, the organizations can start to structure their information gathering, registration and communication internally as well as between the parties involved and the public.

By utilizing these internationally recognized models, agencies can work to build the public’s confidence through relationship, thus providing a more positive image to both national and international media. 

Over the past years the growing gap between local government, police and the public has been a direct result of insufficient knowledge on how to deal with growing public unrest; which in turn has contributed to an acceleration of this disconnect and has led to some growing animosity between law enforcement and the public. This is why developing an effective Public Order Management Program is a must for agencies at all levels.

While there are multiple effective variations to setting up a Public Order Management Program, there are 3 primary sub categories that really encompass all the components of POM.  These three components are designed to; prevent, stabilize and de-escalate these potentially volatile situations.

Social Conditioned Hesitative Behavior

Baltimore riots 2015. (Photo courtesy Baltimore Police Department)

 

Public Order Management (POM) consists of:

  1. Crowd Management
  2. Crowd Control
  3. Riot Control

 

  1. Crowd Management focuses on all measures that are taken to maintain order and safety during an event by all participants to include the event organizer, local or national government and law enforcement.
  2. Crowd Control, is where the emphasis lies on control and restraint of crowds. Tools for this include; fencing, gates and checkpoints. In cases where Crowd Control is insufficient to maintain Public Order, the option is only then escalated to Riot Control.
  3. Riot Control, is where the objective is to regain control of any disturbance by means of counter measure tactics and force in order to de-escalate the situation. This can require the police to wear protective clothing and carry shields which can be seen as more confrontational. Therefore Riot Control is the last resort of POM.

(Government Training Institute – GTItraining.org)

The first 5 Steps to take in developing a Public Order Management Program:

  1. The core principle of Public Order Management is that the vast majority ofcrowds that gather are law abiding citizens who are legally exercising their rights to protest and voice their concerns and beliefs. This understanding should be the basis of any lawful protest and we must remember that we all took an oath to “Serve and Protect” and that oath includes protecting protestors and their right to lawfully protest.
  2. Understanding that a group has a certain behaviour is one thing, but knowing “Why” it behaves the way it does is the key to understanding “how” to deal with these people not only as a group but as individuals. A group of any sort is made up of individuals; individuals with certain behaviours and characteristics. Understanding this allows us to use a variety of proven procedures and academic models such as the Elaborated Social Identity Model so we can begin to understand groups and start to predict how they may behave.
  3. Communication and information is and will always be the key to prevention; de-escalation or if needed; confrontation and containment. It is therefore imperative that we understand the best way to effectively communicate. We must ensure that we are using the right type of communication to successfully reach our goal of preventing the situation from escalating into violence. Far too often our Crowd Control Units are taught an ineffective way of communicating that ultimately has the opposite effect of what they are trying to accomplish. How we communicate is paramount and because of that we must “Change the Tune!”
  4. Appearance through a show of force vs less-visible response and actions should all be reviewed, altered and in many cases, redefined. Studies over the last few decades show that facing all these instances as threats and appearing as a hostile counter force often causes an escalation to violence and that ultimately is a failure. We however must protect our officers with every available option that we can but how do we do that without showing up as an adversarial force, no matter what the instance is? We have to consider the best practices of Public Order Management and the findings of the research and change our mind-sets; our overall approach and ultimately how we appear to the populous.
  5. Last but not least…why?! Well, we are living in an age where Law Enforcement is under constant observation and scrutiny from the public and the media.We are fighting to do our job, all the while everyone is ready to judge our every move; and whether we are right or wrong, we end up defending our actions against the internet and social media. Because of this, we have to change our approach but we cannot forget what we are there to do and still maintain the safety of our officers and the public we are there to protect. To make these changes we have to train our people from the top to the bottom and give them the tools they need to be successful in TODAY’s environment; not using antiquated techniques, equipment and procedures.  Let’s make sure we train to a standard that keeps everyone on the same level operationally and gives no one the ammunition to scrutinize our actions or our people who are just trying to do their job and return home safely to their families.

Masked protesters using pepper spray. (Screenshot – Andy Ngo Twitter)

Government Training Institute (GTI)is internationally known as a leader in SWAT and tactical training with training centers in South Carolina; it has created an alliance with a team of subject matter experts in the field of Public Order Management. 

Dr. Tamara D. Herold of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Rene Gaemers of Batavae Training & Consultancy out of the Netherlands and Neil Pollock, retired Public Order Management Trainer and Tactical Advisor from The Metropolitan Police in London, UK.

The team is working with colleagues from around the US and abroad to set up a Public Order Management Academy at GTI’s South Carolina facilities.  The facility is expansive and allows for all levels of Public Order training: from the basic Field Force style training through specialist training such as role specific evidence capture and liaison officers to work with protest organizers before during and after an event; to classroom-based training for those who will command the POM events and the team who will assist and support them. The facility also allows for the option to recreate events to assist in debriefs or to develop new tactics. 

GTI will be holding Public Order Management Commanders courses starting on August 12 -16th.

GTI’S TRAINING CALENDAR CAN BE SEEN HERE

For more information on the Public Order Management courses, please contact GTI directly.  

Phone: 803-259-1935

Email: [email protected]

Visit our website for additional information on this and many other courses. www.gtitraining.org.