The Bay Area Transit Police, amusingly known as BART, show that law enforcement still doesn’t understand the value — and challenges — of social media. The police force reacted to planned flash mobs by shutting down cell phone service in the BART stations. Hey, if you can’t talk to one another, how are you going to organize, right? Thank God BART wasn’t around when the Founding Fathers were trying to hammer out the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps the transit agency would have drummed the unruly bastards out of Philadelphia before they could dream up the First Amendment.
When all is said and done, some will argue that Denver PD had a hand in fueling the violence that ensued while the world’s attention was focused on the political drama unfolding in their city. Though we haven’t seen (much of) anything yet, violent conflicts seem increasingly likely. We are only entering Day 2 of the Convention, and already there is footage of police violence, the threats of lawsuits and the very negative PR stories of the elderly being gassed
Denver PD, a 660 strong force that will be swelling with reinforcements under mutual aid arrangements to around 3,000, is coming under increasing scrutiny before the Democratic National Convention hits town late in the month. There are discussions about how the budget has been spent, speculation about whether the police are using the security restrictions to stifle free speech, and wonderment about how the Convention will be policed.
Recent legislation in Denver has outlawed the materials necessary to obstruct passage and access, such as chains, handcuffs, etc, and ‘noxious materials’, such as fecal matter. One would have thought the latter was already covered by statute, but perhaps not. The Denver City Council stated that having learned the lessons of Seattle, they are determined to equip the police with the ability to ensure good public order.
The FARC was dealt a severe political, military and public relations defeat last week by the successful operation that led to the release of Ingrid Betencourt and the three American contractors. The days when the FARC was viewed as a meaningful political force are all but gone.
Responsible and effective public order activities will be evidenced by the proactive policing of order, rather than the reactive policing of disorder. What is increasingly looking like the inability on the part of Denver to engage with the protesters and include them in the planning process rather than alienating them does not bode well for proactive policing of order.
The decision to equip police sergeants in New York with Tasers is a sound one. The squeals of alarm in some quarters will be deafening, but these protests will demonstrate both misunderstanding and the power of emotive words. The deploymenty of Taser offers the opportunity for the NYPD to respond swiftly and effectively in a manner less lethal than the use of firearms alone. It must be remembered that Taser weapons reduce – if not completely eliminate – the risk of fatality.
CQ Homeland Security’s Dan Fowler profiles Carbon Motors Corporation, a new automaker designing the first purpose-built car for law enforcement.
Recently, I learned that President Bush will name Michele Leonhart as the Administration’s nominee to be the permanent head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The President’s decision to name such a worthy and dedicated public servant to the post should be commended.
Criminal threats have evolved over the years. New responsibilities in a post-9/11 environment challenge law enforcement at the local, state and federal level. Emergency response capabilities are increasingly part of any street cop’s job. But the resource most critical for so many of these challenges—the patrol car—has never evolved to keep pace.