Explaining Protest Policing: Police Perspective Seeing Blue By: Ashaye…
Explaining Protest Policing: Police Perspective
By: Ashaye and Ada P
A "blue approach" to explaining police action at protests
examines what police agencies and officers are likely to find threatening
Argues while elites may be concerned about more diffuse threats, such as the articulation of revolutionary goals by protest group or movement, the police are more concerned with situational threats that indicate that they may lose control of a community crowd
Situational indicators of actual or possible loss of control
proactive actions on the part of a crowd signal a police dispatcher for police supervision
ex: property damage
police cues signaling losses of control are socially produced
ex: missile throwing (rocks, bricks, bottles) salient cues
presence of counter demonstrators substantially increase the potential for conflict at protest events (
(disagree with political claims of protesters and actively seek to thwart opposing mobilizations
two main elements
One major precieved threat is loss of control
maintaining public order and enforcing laws (maintaining control in interactions and over communities)
examines differences between agencies and the relation between protest policing that affect structure protest policing
more professional = less means of use of force and more emphasis on training in professional models to better handle protest
more police = more tactical options
more police = more hours devoted to controlling police protest
New York State 1968-1973 case study
used to compare the political elite threat, weakness, and blue approcach
was a microcosm of police protester and police-public interactions and a microcosm of developments with policing
police attendance of protest events
police actions at protest events
ounce of prevention (officers attempt to prevent disorder)
nothing to see (offices show up and take no actions)
dirty harry (exclusively use of force
calling all cars (force and arrest)
argues that larger threats to political elites predict greater repression in terms of both frequency and severity
ex: groups that use non-insitutional and confrontational tactics
argues that because states risk public embarrassment if they fall in repressive attempts the states should have an interest in publicly repressing only insurgents who think they can defeat
two approaches of weakness
weakness from without
protesters are relying on external monitoring of the state to limit repression with weaker protesters hoping that influential elites will monitor repression and contest over zealous acts of coercion on their behalf
weakness from within
suggest that protest events composed of participants that lack substantial access to government and government officials are weaker than those composed of participants who are more institutional and have regular access
Explaining Police Protests
Police are more likely to attend and monitor events with larger number of participants.
Police are more likely to attend events where confrontational protests tactics are deployed , and events where protesters support radical claims.
It is not the case that SMO sponsored events attract more protesters and hence police presence.
Not simply the case that events with counter demonstrators are larger, use confrontational tactics, and are likely to be organized by SMO.
Police construct counter demonstrator presence as a threat to order and control and thus seek to monitor protest events where founder demonstrators are present.
Per capita spending on police does not affect the likely hood on police presence. Police respond to protests that require monitoring, whether or not that stretches their agency thin.
Two political elite threat variables that are significant and tap more situational concerns. : The size of the protests and the kinds of tactics used by protesters.
The number of police studies in the program does not affect the likely hood of police presence. However, if the police chief or sheriff of a department has been a recent president of the Newyork association of the chiefs of police, the likely hoo d of presence increases.
Explaining police actions at protests events
At an event where all dummy variables are “off” and continuous variables are at their mean, there is a 41% chance that the police would deploy a Do Nothing approach if present, but only a 5% chance of deploying a Calling All Cars approach.
The probability of a Do Nothing approach drops to 23% if protesters use confrontational tactics.
While there is a 32% probability of using a legal approach at an event in the 10th percentile of protest size, that probability drops by 14 percentage points to 18% if the protest size increases to the 90th percentile.
Larger protest size bifurcate police responses into simple presence with no action or serious action involving force.
Large crowds can actually ignite contention and make conflict between police and protesters much more likely. This may lead the police to resist interacting with crowds until it is vitally necessary.
Police would simply monitor protest until a crowd was beginning to get seriously out of control. At that point, limited action or purely nonviolent forms of protest control may no longer be viable, leading to an increase in the likelihood of using force.
Only two weakness variables are significant—college student presence and total front-page news coverage from the prior month.
The presence of college students decreases the probability of police using a Calling All Cars response, reducing the probability to 1 in 50 protests.
Counter demonstrator presence increases the probability of deploying a Dirty Harry approach.
The use of missiles, net of violence, property damage, and other protest characteristics, also increases the probability of using a force-based police strategy.
Wealthier departments are less likely to use a Dirty
Harry approach because wealthier departments
would be better able to provide their officers with adequate training
Missile throwing directly threatens officer safety and was widely argued to be an indicator that police control was either lost or nearly lost over a situation.
Increased front-page news coverage increases the probability that the police will take at least some action at protest events.