"Best Practices" in Crowd Control: Recent Lessons Learned

Donald A. Lund, University of New Hampshire

Couch, McPhail, McCarthy and others have discredited traditional explanations of crowd behavior, typically attributed to LeBon, Park and Blumer, upon which much of contemporary police and military crowd control doctrine has been based. This has created a substantial crowd control research agenda and a demand for replacement strategies by crowd control practitioners. To help fill this vacuum, Justiceworks, at the University of New Hampshire, has been perfecting a lessons learned "case study" technique allowing analysis of "event" data from disparate sources. By reorganizing information from verified accounts into a standardized format and subjecting the resulting data to statistical analysis, the researchers have been able to discern patterns in these events and to derive generalizable lessons learned. By applying this methodology to recent events including the Olympic Beer Riot, the New York WEF protests, and the Seattle WTO Protest, the researchers are identifying law enforcement actions that have led to violent behavior in crowds, law enforcement actions that have avoided, deterred, or alleviated violent behavior in crowds, and technologies/techniques that have been effective in preventing and stopping violent behavior. Findings to date will be presented including those concerning pre-event negotiation, paramilitary policing, and use of less than lethal weapons.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006