Approaches to Protest Policing
Approaches to Protest Policing
Prior research approaches
"Threat approach". The larger the threat to political elites, the greater the chance for more frequent and severe repression.
"Weakness approach". States risk embarrassment if they fail to repress protestors. Thus, states should only attempt to repress weaker groups that they know they can defeat.
"Weakness from within". Protest participants who lack access to government officials/ resources will be weaker due to their insufficient ability to mobilize and retaliate against oppressors.
"Weakness from without". Protesters rely on the external monitoring of the state to limit repression and contest any overzealous acts.
Waddington's "On the job trouble" / "In the job trouble". Police reactions to protest are done in a way to minimize both types of trouble.
Della Porta and Reiter's "Stable/ Volatile political opportunities". A model that combines several factors to produce "police knowledge", which is then used to make decisions
Waddington, Jones and Critcher's "Flashpoints". A model of escalation based on the characteristics of police and protestors
Cunningham's research on the FBI's COINTELPRO system.
Explaining Police Action at Protest Events
college students presence and total front page news coverage significant
college students lower probability of action while news coverage increases the likelihood of police action
violence affects police action more so than property damage
counter-demonstrators increase the likelihood of police action
well-trained officers may increase the chances that police are able to react in legal ways
and without engaging in a police riot
wealthier departments are less likely to use a Dirty
2 major focus of academic attempts to explain the differences of how authorities respond to protest:
The "Allocation of Repression" across protest events at a particular moment in history (rather than the gradual changes over time).
The general changes in levels or strategies of repression over time (rather than the specifics of a particular point in time).
New police-centered "blue" approach
Organizational characteristics that vary across police agencies
Taking core institutional characteristics of policing seriously
Staffing levels/ size (Larger departments are better able to handle protests without compromising other police functions)
Concern for/ levels of professionalism within the department (More professionalism = better trained)
3 key institutional features of policing (common among all police agencies)
Enforcing the law
Maintaining public order
Imperative of maintaining control in all interactions
Social processing of identifying and responding to danger/ threats
Loss of control = Biggest threat to police officers
Indicators of loss of control:
The presence of counter-demonstrators substantially increases the risk for conflict at protests
Particular types of provocative actions from the crowd (property damage/ violence)
"Missile throwing" by the crowd
Officers most concerned about situational threats, not diffuse threats
Data and collection of data at protests
more than one person participates
2.participants must have articulated some claim
3.the event must have happened in the public sphere
Of the protests that met that criteria certain events were analyzed
1.those that would not, under normal circumstances, be likely to experience police presence, such as letter-writing campaigns, lawsuits, and press conferences
those that took place in total institutions, such as prisons, jails, and mental institutions
3.labor-related events since the dynamics of labor-police interactions and the length of many labor actions (i.e. strikes)
Explaining police presence
institutional concerns over control independently structure protest policing
All police threat measures are significant
protester initiated violence and/or property damage