NYPD "Disorder Control Unit" guidelines, snagged from inside van by arrestee

@newyorkist says, "@OccupyWallStNYC got their hands on a New York Police Department Disorder Control Unit document, allegedly picked out of a van by an arrestee."

The pull quote: "A strong military appearance, with sharp and precise movements, is a force multiplier and a psychological advantage to us."

Actually, many of the criticisms of the NYPD's tactics against OWS protesters in recent weeks involve complaints that they have not followed some of the more reasonable guidelines set forth on this flyer.


  1. That seems like a very logical set of rules of engagement.  It’s asking some poorly trained, excitable people who are used to always being obeyed to actually execute those rules where the problems develop. 

      1. All except for point 1. While it is true that a sharp military appearance acts as a force multiplier, there are “soft” methods of crowd control that some experts say work better than force.

        1. Yeah, I read a few articles about how having the police at a protest on day 1 being friendly and personable and expressing a desire to protect protesters has made later attempts to clear the area much less combative. If this is the guideline for when the situation has already deteriorated I can understand not mentioning a friendly attitude here, but then again the NYPD didn’t really engage in that type of confidence building; obviously their protest protocol really needs an update.

  2. Wait.. I’m I reading this correctly?

    NYPD guid-lines seem to suggest disregarding thieves and vandals (last point) in favor of ignoring (point 15) and menacing (point 1) people exercising their right of free speech and assembly. 

    1. That probably is what it intends. Being in a situation where an angry crowd (with superior numbers, mind you) is in your face, yelling, viewing you as the enemy…. it’s a situation that puts human beings on edge. You don’t want the police thinking like people at a time like that, you want them thinking like emotionless law-enforcing robots

      Robot thoughts:
      “As long as nobody breaks the rules, don’t do anything. If someone does break the rules, arrest them and try not to let things get out of hand.”

      Human thoughts:
      “…Have to stand out here in the cold because of these assholes protesting…. AAAAH! Shit there are so many of them… did that guy have a knife?! Someone just threw a bottle ohnoshitpepperspray!”

      1. I’m not sure about that. Maybe the human being would think “Well, those people are also standing up for MY rights and MY liberties. Who am I actually protecting by fighting these protesters?”
        while the robot might ‘think’: “Must obey the supervisor. Must follow orders. Must achieve objective.” while being programmed to use particular tactics in particular situations without evaluating the situation.

        I, Robot comes to mind.

        1. Performing their job appropriately keeps them alive. Being creative, free-thinking and lackadaisical about the rules, despite hollywood’s desperate desire for a good story, gets them killed or sued or fired. It kind of encourages strict adherence to the rules when breaking the rules gets you dead or broke or fired. 

  3. That was the FAKE civil disorder guidelines planted in the van for the arrestee to steal and show the world what good police we have.

  4. I actually picked up the very same piece of paper at Zuccotti Park around 10am, the morning after the eviction.  This was about half an hour before a march of protestors came back to the park. It appears to have been handed out to the cops in preparation for that.

    This was a strange time to be there: the park was empty, just a few curious passers-by. Photographed and picked up a lot of debris in the gutters around the parks: lots and lots of small change, broken tent posts, a pair of silver spoons..

  5. This isn’t exactly a scandal, but there are a few points that are worrying. The first point, “the impression we make upon disorderly and violent groups” immediately casts any sort of civil disobedience as something that is destined to flare up. Then there’s this comment, “always have disorder control equipment ready for immediate use”. Immediate use? 

    The problem with this set of directives is more about what it tells us of the attitude of police toward protests. Where is the directive reminding police that non-violent protest is a core democratic right? What about the directive reminding police that protesters may in fact be demanding a redress of legitimate grievances? Instead, we have this line: “Be tolerant of verbal abuse, crowds may attempt to provoke you.” No one finds that wording strange? It paints a protest as a kind of close knit conspiracy where everyone involved is out to tarnish the good names of police officers.

    If this small sliver of information is in any way indicative of the wholesale attitude toward non-violent demonstration, is it any wonder why police brutality seems to be escalating ? It’s a lot easier to reach for the baton and the pepper spray if you’ve been primed to view the crowd as an unruly mob.

    1. To be fair, typically there always are a small group of people who are there for the sole purpose of provoking a reaction, to tarnish the good reputation of police officers, and as an excuse to smash things and use paint-bombs. Reminding the officers of this fact probably does a lot to prevent the antagonists from achieving their goals. 

    1. Air mail. Like balloons filled with urine (or less savory biohazards), bricks, or other gross stuff. Not saying these particular protesters are doing these things, but there are loads of protesters who have done those in the past. That’s why it’s on the police checklist; it’s a common occurrence.  

  6. “Do not enter rooftops/alleys alone or when in civilian clothes, except when ordered by a supervisor.”

    I may be reading too much in to the ‘how-to-conduct-oneself-after-knocking-off-and-webbing-your-way-home-of-an-eve’ section of the manual but why is there ordnance pertaining to the use of civilian clothing in a riot manual?
    Oh right.

  7. A lot of those guidelines are pretty respectable and look like they’re intelligently meant to prevent unnecessary violence.

    Also the quote cited doesn’t exactly sound friendly but:

     “A strong military appearance, with sharp and precise movements, is a force multiplier and a psychological advantage to us.”

    the way you approach that quote probably allows you to interpret it differently. I think, though, in the context of the more reasonable guidelines that surround it, the idea is that if you can deter conflict with psychological deterrents, you hopefully won’t have to use batons.

    Groups of people armed with weapons can act pretty damned thuggish in the moment but when they’re planning for this sort of thing cops don’t want violence any more than protestors do. Violence means a public backlash, a potential to be injured, and a lot of paperwork. There are plenty of selfish reasons to want to avoid it even if you don’t think they’re the sort of people to avoid it for ethical reasons.

    1. Not quite. Rape and pillage after defeating your enemy was SOP for the Roman army. NYPD….not so much

    2. No, the Roman army would have slaughtered every OWS protester on the first day. 

      While there have been many examples of police barbarity with respect to OWS, those examples are barbarous in the light of our current mores. Even 19th century Americans wouldn’t understand what the problem was here, much less the Romans.

      From any reasonable point of view, this document is as sane as can be imagined, and as humane. This doesn’t excuse the numerous crimes we’ve seen the police have in fact committed in the past weeks, but the document is fine.

      1. If anything, it shows most of the abuse is by bad cops who think of “Disorder Control” as an excuse to go nuts, and that their bosses worry about it and want to keep people acting like human beings.

      2. No, the Roman army would have slaughtered every OWS protester on the first day.

        The Roman Army was, for many centuries, not allowed to enter the City Of Rome because the Romans were unwilling to have an occupying army, even if it was their own.

        1. True indeed…during the striving days of a Stoic Republic.  Marius and Sulla altered that taboo for good…after a few generations of strife: hellooooo Pretorian Guard.

          The Golden Rule holds paramount.  Unless those with the steel don’t get their share of the gold: it all went to hell when Marcus Aurelius died…he shoulda appointed a worthy successor: Commodus was worthless; the beginning of the End.

        2. Perhaps in the republic. In imperial times it was because the Emperor was afraid of being dethroned by one of the legions as happened frequently anyway. 

          So if OWS was in Imperial Rome, assuming it wasn’t sanctioned by the Tribunes (likely not) the Praetorian guard would have slaughtered them instead of the Legions.

          However, the Legions did an excellent job at slaughtering civilian uprisings from Britannia to Palestine and points between.

  8. “Where is the directive reminding police that non-violent protest is a core democratic right?”

    Really? You see a workaday sheet of not-perfect-but-rather-reasonable SOPs and wonder why there aren’t multiple instances of philosophical musings included?

    Next to your timeclock at work do you have a note that says ‘Swipe downward’ or do you have one that says ‘Please be aware that time is all we have in this world, it is the stuff life is made of’? On your saw is there a warning that says ‘Keep fingers away from blade’ or did you put a note there reading ‘Constantly be aware that insects have a right to live in this world too, be careful where you cut’?

    Practical list is practical, and not exactly controversial unless you’re parsing with an agenda.

    1. That’s a fair point but, as a rebuttal, I was actually looking at the directives as a list of practical advice for police. Reminding officers of those facts is not necessarily expecting them to engage in  “philosophical musing” but to put them in the mindset where they will consider their actions more carefully and be, hopefully, less likely to escalate a situation.

      It might have been here, but I remember reading about a recent study that suggested the use of “non-lethal” force increased the likelihood of a non-violent situation escalating into a violent one. If the police are already viewing the crowd as a violent mob, then they may respond to the situation in a way that actually increases the level of danger to the crowd and to themselves.

      Avoiding that seems like a practical concern to me. 

    2. That the list normalizes and makes routine oppressive police measures–such as using military style tactics to break up nonviolent, peaceful political protests, contravening the First Amendment–by focusing on practicality and ignoring ideology and a paradigm shift in policing during the last 30 years (increasing militarization, increasing erosion of rights of citizens, surveillance), is incredibly controversial. That these are accompanied with surface concerns for the citizens being so treated–in another sense, so framed, as subjects of public discourse and police power–is even scarier, Michel Foucault–level scary.

      I love how you implicitly compare peaceful protesters to insects being mowed down by an all-powerful blade, BTW, telling of you. How’s that for parsing with an agenda?

      1. I suppose you could also analyze my other example as the OWS protesters ‘swiping downward’ through the mechanism of state, penetrating the machinery while also resetting it to a fresh start.

        Or, perhaps, there are limits to psychoanalyzing others on the internet. :)

    3. You don’t think it might be important that police be trained that their relationship with the public is not an adversarial one? Because that’s pretty much the only thing distinguishing them from an army of occupation.

      1. The regular police, in general?  Of course.   But remember, this is a special unit.  I am more concerned they are being employed at all, if the protesters are peaceful.

      2. “You don’t think it might be important that police be trained that their relationship with the public is not an adversarial one?”

        If I am to take the comments on BB as in any way representing the beliefs of OWS as a movement, I can see why the police would see OWS in an adversarial light.

        1. “If I am to take the comments on BB as in any way representing the beliefs of OWS as a movement, I can see why the police would see OWS in an adversarial light.”

          Yeah… that right there is the problem. You realize how anti-democratic what you just said is right? You get that agents of the state suppressing groups based on their professed political ideology is the whole crux of what’s wrong with this document and the uses of police power it represents? Training police to regard peaceful, nonviolent demonstrators as appropriate targets of violent action and initmidation is precisely why this document is distressing.

  9. Although the “look as intimidating as possible” one seems kind of sinister, most of these are actually kind of reassuring to see… or would be, if they were actually followed. It also really needs a “do not attempt to conceal your identity or badge number” rule.

  10. Agreed. But I don’t think you went far enough. The human being might think “Well, those people could well be standing up for my rights and my liberties… who am I actually protecting by fighting these protesters?”

    But your human being is also going to think, “Maybe I should quit my job on the spot in this economy and join them… oh, but my wife is pregnant and my son needs braces, and shit! rent is due tomorrow and I don’t even have a quarter tank in my car….”

    In this situation, I’ll take the robot. “Follow guidelines as stated in the conduct sheet. Don’t use force unless force is used on me. Protect life, civilians’ and protesters’ and my own and my colleagues. Protect private property. If have doubts, bring up to superiors later when bottles aren’t being thrown.”

  11. “A strong military appearance …. is a force multiplier and a psychological advantage to us”

    But is it really? Does psychology support this?

    Well, partly, yes. In a violent maneuver against violent protesters this is indeed the case. But in the case of non-violent groups this only serves to dehumanize the police, and allows them to dehumanize the other group through their facelessness and uniformity (much has been written on this in group psychology and social psychology). As well as the police being primed for violence (and faceless).

    This is NOT a good approach against non-violent groups unless the idea is to try to escalate the confrontation. That may indeed be the case, albeit probably organised by the higher-ups. As we all know, violent protesters lose respectability and get viewed as a mob, which can be dealt with quite harshly without  the authorities losing any respect (possibly even gaining).

    That is why the UC Davis people did so amazingly well. They wouldn’t let idiots provoke them. Therefore THEY kept the respectability and the authorities came off very badly on worldwide news.

    1. I think a new set of “official” guidelines needs to be written. A sincere guide on how the police should govern themselves around peaceful protected assembly. Print out 10,000 copies. Then distribute covertly. If even for a moment individual officers believe the document is real, then psychologically it may nudge their thinking in a good direction.

  12. ” I remember reading about a recent study that suggested the use of “non-lethal” force increased the likelihood of a non-violent situation escalating into a violent one.”

    So, you advocate the use of lethal force? “Pepper spray burns, bring back the NAPALM”?

  13. I am glad to see this.  “NY’s finest” can stay that way if they follow these guidelines.  Now, if they could please send this to the Oakland PD and the campus cops at UC Davis…

  14. I just don’t see what the big deal here is.  Everything here looks reasonable, given the context.

    I see many complaints about what the guidelines do not say, with the implication that such omission are somehow sinister and indicative of a combative mindset.  I don’t buy that.  The page is addressed to the Civil Disorder Unit.  It is plainly intended to be policy for when dealing with ~uncivil disobedience, not peaceful protest.  Use of the Civil Disorder Unit in New York against peaceful protesters is a separate issue.

    1. The story here isn’t that they are given sinister orders, but that they are given verry reasonable orders, that most people would agree with. Orders wich they then seem to abondon in favor of violence and indiscriminant arrests. Things that they are excplicitly ordered not to do.

    2. You’re mistaking “civil disorder” for “civil unrest”.  Alot of the protesters are being disorderly, in public.   That’s not illegal (unless you’re also U/I)  However, there have been few cases of unrest (rioting, looting, lawbreaking etc), few enough to be handled without riot protocol.  If you’re in this unit, then your job is to identify, target, and arrest those people actually breaking a law; without breaking protocol, or sacrificing the safety of yourself, your squadmates, and the general public in doing so.

  15. The presupposition that people will be violent and disorderly is a bit sinister, but they are there to attend exactly that sort of thing.  It’s disappointing that there’s no “de-escalate”, just “be stony-faced and keep tight, people.” 

    I notice that “pepper-spray them like roaches” isn’t on the list.

  16. nice “force multiplier” drop.  leave it to nypd to pick up military buzzwords a year after they go out of fashion

  17. I don’t think it would be needlessly philosophical to include a statement to the effect of “Do not interfere with people peacefully exercising their right to assemble and petition the Government.”

  18. I think this is a great starting place for a discussion of crowd-control policing.  Nothing on the list seems overly unreasonable, but as many have pointed out, the underlying philosophy might be mistaken.  Just as there was a shift 30 years ago (in some departments) from bunker-mentality policing to community policing, a similar shift in crowd control would be helpful.  

    If a group of people trusted that arrests would only be made of people injuring others or destroying property, police could probably walk freely through a group with no objections.  If they show up in riot gear, or with an apparent interest in arresting peaceful demonstrators, other peaceful people will link arms and prevent the police from walking in.  People will yell at the police, etc.  Some of the black-bloc jerkoffs will take advantage of this division to break things.  For people who have experience at large gatherings, there is just as much potential for violence at any large gathering of people.  Most sporting events, for example, do not see lines of riot cops unless a large number of people are actually doing something.  However the police response is very different for protests like OWS: they often show up in riot gear and present an adversarial face from the start. 

    Of course, such a change is only possible if the actual goal is ensuring people can express themselves freely and safely.  If the goal is to discourage peaceable assembly, or the police are ordered to make harassing arrests (eg arrests for minor things like jaywalking, just to remove people from the group), there is no way they are going to build trust among the demonstrators.

    1. If one is worried about their protesters being “harassed” by arrests for “minor things,” perhaps those protesters ought not break “minor” laws.

      1. This is a point I think a lot of people I’ve spoken to haven’t been clear on: camping in public parks is usually against the law, and the city governments certainly have the right to remove protesters from public land if they’ve been residing there. Protesters are free to protest in parks every day for as long as they want, but they don’t necessarily have a right to store goods there or live there. Your right to free speech on public land and your right to use public land aren’t the same thing. Many people I’ve spoken to IRL–admittedly legally ignorant folks, to put it charitably–haven’t been clear on that point and thought the police had no reason to eject the occupiers.

  19. Seems pretty reasonable. The problem doesn’t appear to be the guidelines, but that they are not following the guidelines, as others have pointed out.

    One thing I have a problem with though is all the group think. They make it very clear that no one is supposed to think independently, and that they should act as a team and follow orders at all time. That kind of thing is very dangerous and can lead to terrible excesses because it absolves people of personal responsibility and allows them to hide behind the actions of others.

    1. re: “One thing I have a problem with though is all the group think. They make it very clear that no one is supposed to think independently, and that they should act as a team and follow orders at all time.”

      Or even more likely, you have one cop go off script crossing the line and making choices that endanger not only the protestors, but other cops that now have to deal the excitement he caused.

      We have organization for a reason.  When it comes to people with guns, it is best they have discipline. To follow orders is usually what is going to keep them alive. You don’t want 100 different people interpreting the rules and what their conduct should be 100 different ways. Just because you have discipline and follow orders, doesn’t make you a robot (or as I call them, an Electronic American) – who will open fire on the whim of an order.   As the beginning of Full Metal Jacket says, “The Marine Corp does not want robots. The Marine Corp wants killers.” (Obviously the killers part doesn’t and shouldn’t reflect the civilian police force. My point is they don’t want mindless robots.)

  20. Just…. wow.  The first directive is mind blowing.  I haven’t the words to… wait, yes I do.  They would call that “shock and awe.”  The rest of them are common sense to any military unit, which the police are not supposed to be.  The last 5 directives, however, are nothing but counter-terrorism tactics.  The only conclusion possible from this is that the police see our Constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceably assemble as terrorist activity.

    1. The list really seems to be written with riots in mind, rather than peaceful assembly, so I would say it’s a bit of a jump to say that the police view peaceful protests as terrorist activity, based on this list.

      I emphasize that last part because the fact that this Disorder Control Unit is sent to non-violent gatherings in the first place, as well as the cops’ own actions, do indeed support your conclusion.

      1. Well, they would probably be prepared in the case of any conflict that MIGHT become violent. You could argue it’s overkill in this scenario, but they were charged with removing all the protesters whether or not they consented. I’m calling Hanlon’s razor on this one; you can explain what happened in NYC by saying that the NYPD are cautious and have some shithead officers who like bullying when they think they can get away with it. Jeligula’s explanation seems a lot less parsimonious.

        1. If it were a single incident, I’d say fair enough, that makes sense. But it always seems to be overkill in every scenario related to OWS, and not just in New York. To me, that implies a lot about the attitudes of the police as a whole.

          1. I agree; It shows that there are a lot of shit cops in this country, and that fear brings out the worst in people.

  21. Second what dccarles said.  Listen, the DCU is designed to handle riots and unruly crowds, as such their procedures are built that way.  They’re even taught to bang their nightsticks against the side of the vans as they approach to sound more menacing.  Clearly, this tactic is used when 150 cops are trying to restore order to 1,000 people. 

    Those on the board here that think cops are fascists and they don’t need to have an imposing presence have clearly never been on Eastern Parkway the night before the West Indian Day Parade.  All of these tactics are designed to keep both the officers and the public safe.  And no one should apologize for anything on that list. 

    Oh and air mail is a real thing.  I once saw a toilet fly off the roof of a building in Washington Heights.  That shit is scary. 

  22. The term “bottle throwers” appears in the document. Ever since most bottles changed to soft plastic I’ve wondered why the police still trot out the excuse that they were struck with bottles when they need an excuse to explain why they attacked the public. Though some teas and a minority of fizzy drinks come in glass bottles, they’re not the ubiquitous container they were decades ago when every Coke bottle was glass.

    1. Yeah, but if you are looking for a glass bottle to use as a weapon, it’s only  a Snapple away. I am sure they still get thrown.

  23. I dunno – sounds mostly common sense to me. I guess a ‘military’ look may be frowned upon, but they are trying to exert their authority in a non-verbal way. If looking too military-like was the worst of their sins, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

  24. Is it only in America that pepperspray, small-scale chaos and police actions resulting in bodily harm and/or death are employed in both the Black Friday rituals of  Corporate Capitalist Consumerism and the activities used to protest it?

  25. theyallhateme – I’m just speculating, but I’m guessing many (if not most) of the cops working OWS had zero experience in this type of operation until recently.  The “Disorder Control Unit” ::snicker:: was probably not assembled with a large-scale, long-lasting protest in mind.  They would have to shuffle a lot of people in and out of the unit to deal with multiple shifts and an assignment lasting weeks or months.  They are likely pulling in a lot of cops who haven’t been trained in this sort of thing.  Having said that, it doesn’t help that several of the high-profile examples of police brutality have been committed by officers who are seasoned and experienced.  Maybe their commanders assumed (incorrectly) only the new guys needed these instructions.

  26. Having been a cop for 25 years (now retired), I can tell you that “Disorder Control Unit” is the politically correct term for “Riot Squad”. This ad hoc group, not a regular unit training together, is normally used to suppress riots and looting, not at peaceful protests. Some protests (see Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church–one of my state’s claims to infamy) have been deemed by the courts to be covered under the 2nd Amendment even though, in most other contexts, it would probably be considered hate speech and cited as an aggravating circumstance in hate crimes prosecution.
    The first instruction–about appearance–is critical. The uniform is a psychological tool and, in fact, is listed as the first level of a cop’s “force continuum”–a series of graduated steps of force to be used to counter levels of attack without the force used being considered excessive. This force continuum (as it was called in all of my training) ranges from “officer presence” to “deadly force”. As you can see from this list, one of the instructions is to use only the minimum force necessary.
    Frequently, one or more officers arriving at the scene of a disturbance is enough to quell the problem without the need for any other force. Studies show that this is because the uniform, by itself, shows that the people wearing it are a team and will act as a team to protect each other and enforce order. Uniforms denote membership in the group and allow immediate recognition by others. Hospital personnel, firemen, even street gangs use uniforms for the same reason.
    Teamwork is essential, especially in a riot situation. Following supervisory instructions is vital to the safety of the team. It’s not a matter of failing to think for yourself, it’s to keep one or two members from becoming separated from the team and becoming victims.
    This list of instructions is comparable to the directives my department used for the same types of incidents. I don’t know whether I, as the unit commander, would have used the riot squad for this operation, but I was not on the scene and cannot second guess the person who was there.
    Oh, by the way, “air mail” refers to things (especially rocks, bricks, and other things) coming off the surrounding roofs onto the officers. It’s probably not very politically correct, but the term is used because it quickly describes a situation in a one-page document. Everyone (cops) who reads this term will immediately know what is meant without a lengthy explanation.
    @Dimitry Petrovich (at 9:45 AM on 11/26)–Yes, asking a group of people, some of whom don’t even know each other, who are used to being obeyed to follow all of these rules is where problems arise. The rules are designed to create a team on the spot and coordinate their operation. However, people being fallible, not every ideal is realized in every situation.
    @McKinley H. Tabor (at 9:53 AM on 11/26)–Point 15 does not advocate ignoring criminal activity, it states that UNAUTHORIZED pursuits are forbidden, again for officer safety. Many, many times in the past, officers have been tempted to chase looters, only to find themselves surrounded and badly injured or killed.
    @Sean Currie (at 10:18 AM on 11/26)–Did you not understand the words “disorderly” and “violent”? As I said above, the team described in this document is normally used to quell riot situations, not peaceful demonstrations. The instruction to have the equipment ready for immediate use is listed because no one can predict when or where this equipment will be needed. Sometimes riot situations spontaneously occur and time is of the essence.
    Line officers don’t decide when to disperse groups so anything about the protestors having legitimate grievances would be inappropriate in this document. This is a directive on HOW to operate not WHEN. The line about being tolerant of verbal abuse seems to me to be discouraging brutality, indeed any force at all, in response to verbal abuse. The protest need not be a “close knit conspiracy” to rapidly evolve into a mob. Mob mentality, as it is known in police circles, takes over and people do things they would not normally do on their own.
    @Ean Moody (at 10:22 AM on 11/26)–Emotion has no place in any situation where officers are confronting large groups of loud, unruly, boisterous people. Unfortunately, cops are also people and, to avoid excessive force claims, departments use these directives to attempt to repress these emotions  Your description of the conflicting thoughts that everyone has in these situations is pretty accurate.
    @miasm (at 10:35 AM on 11/26)–Sometimes, officers are called in on their days off or plainclothes officers are being used as backups. Again, these situations sometimes happen with little notice and require the use of the resources available. Plainclothes officer, if they get separated from the team, could be mistaken for rioters when they try to interfere with other rioters, especially if they are not well known by the other officers.
    @Airpillo (at 10:28 AM on 11/26)–That is exactly the reason for that phrase in this document. I especially like your last paragraph. I couldn’t have said it better.
    @TheHowl (at 11:20 AM on 11/26)–I think you are a philosopher, much better than some I have read.
    @Hanglyman (at 11:56 AM on 11/26)–Most departments have this requirement as part of ordinary operating procedures. However, those officers in full riot gear, including the external stab/bullet resistant vests, will have their badges covered, not by design, but by circumstance.
    @G. Danken (at 12:21 PM on 11/26)–Exactly. Police/military operations don’t have much room or time for individuals to evaluate each particular situation. That’s why they have a chain-of-command. Persons with more training and/or experience (i. e. higher-ranking officers) make the overall evaluations and direct lower-ranking personnel in their particular duties.
    @arikol (at 12:54 on 11/26)–This operation, at least in New York, from what I’ve read, was to remove trespassers from privately owned property. It’s the same operation that would be used in any situation where a large number of people needed to be removed from a location–sweep in from one direction, leaving many exits available, and push the trespassers out, arresting only those who refuse to leave. The UC Davis thing, again, was to remove people who were trespassing. Trespassing isn’t just being on privately owned property without permission, it’s being on ANY property not owned or controlled by you without the permission of the owner OR after you have been told to leave. I agree that the UC Davis thing got out of hand, but, as I’ve said, cops are only human and have the same fallibilities we all have.
    @dccarles (at 2:57 PM on 11/26)–You are, in my opinion, completely correct in your interpretation of this incident. The document gives guidelines for the use of the Civil Disorder Unit. The use of this unit in this situation is questionable, but the operating guidelines for the unit, when it is used at the right times, are reasonable and complete.
    @Who F. Cares (at 4:07 on 11/26)–Unless you’ve heard of disorderly conduct. That is conduct that disrupts good order and affects other people. This is not the legal definition of disorderly conduct, but it is the practical definition of the term and is what most cops use for a working definition.
    @Hans (at 4:58 on 11/26)–Of course, sweeps of large groups to disperse them should never be the first option. I wasn’t there and only have the information contained in the news reports I have read, but, based on my experience, I don’t believe that the NYPD or any other law enforcement agency would ever just “show up in riot gear” without first trying, apparently in this instance for weeks, to disperse the crowd with words and other tactics.
    I could probably write for two more hours and agree or disagree with all of the comment here, but I think I’ve made my point. However, two more and I’ll quit:
    @occamvanrijn (at 1:23 AM on 11/27)–It’s the old saying that rich people and poor people are equal, they are both forbidden to sleep under bridges (or in public parks). Most public spaces–parks, buildings, etc.–have hours when they are closed. This is generally to reduce such “minor,” but increasingly onerous, crimes as public morals offenses and vandalism. If you think you should have unlimited access to public spaces just because your taxes helped pay for them, just try going into your town’s City Hall at 2:00 AM and see what happens.
    @theyallhateme (at 1:30 AM on 11/27)–It’s not a cheat-sheet, it’s a formal policy directive. Every police policy ever written is in response to some department somewhere getting sued for something they either did when they weren’t supposed to do it or something they didn’t do when they were supposed to. These split second decisions are frequently reviewed by people with weeks or months to determine the best response to the situation. After the best response is determined, a policy directive is written to give personnel guidelines for similar situations. However, every situation is different and policy directives can only provide guidelines, not step by step instructions. You will notice that these guidelines are not numbered so that tells me that none of them are more or less important than the others and all of them should be utilized during the entire encounter.
    I’ll climb off my soapbox now and fade back into the woodwork.

    1. I like what you’ve said very much, but in hindsight, as presented to you from dozens of camera angles which clearly document “the scene”, available freely should you seek them out, can you really say:

      but I was not on the scene and cannot second guess the person who was there.

      with a straight face?

      That is an attitude which is also part of the standard issue uniform. It’s a force multiplier itself. And I think you’re wrong about it.  I assure you you can second guess the officer in charge. I wish you would. Someone with some balls and authority needed to have seen the barbarism developing and actually provided some professional leadership, at scale with the threat presented. Reationary brutality does nothing to make America stronger, or anyone safer.

      At any rate, thank you for your contribution, it was both better informed and more rational than most of what I’ve read about this, except, for that part I mentioned there, which I hope you reflect on as just some guys 2cents worth. And thanks for your service. 

    2. Yeah, I don’t really understand why the protesters are surprised they’re getting cleared out of the parks… It’s frankly pretty surprising it didn’t happen much earlier. If I tried to pitch a tent and live in a park because I liked the view I’d get booted instantly. If most folks out there are accepting being cleared out as a legal risk and accept it peacefully then I admire their spirit and encourage them to continue their campaign of civil disobedience–hell, I’d be willing to help buy groceries for one of their group kitchens. If they think they’ve got the right to camp on public land, then I’m pretty confused.

  27. oh, also This operation, at least in New York, from what I’ve read, was to remove trespassers from privately owned property. largely true. My understanding is that the park was designated as public space, administered by the city, and was set up as such as a concession for for greater air rights from the city for the adjacent building, at the time of construction. So, the police were sent in to make sure that people who got their cake also were able to eat it in peace. And that’s just a waste of your training.

    1. I really appreciate your comments. Yes, I can say my “second guess” statement with a straight face. I was referring to the split second decisions of the overall commander of the operation. I have always hated Monday morning quarterbacks who get to review actions by looking at all angles and have unlimited time to decide what they would do in situations where the guy on the scene can only use limited information and time to make his decisions.

      I don’t mean to imply that I would have, in the same situation, done the same things. Every level of any department’s chain-of-command has responsibilities to the levels above them to accomplish the objectives assigned. But, they also have responsibility to the levels below them to provide the leadership necessary to accomplish those objectives in a legal manner with the absolute minimum force required to achieve the goals. Some of the stuff I’ve seen, and I admit I’ve not seen most of the coverage, would have resulted in my department imposing immediate sanction, such as limited uty, suspension, dismissal, and even departmentally initiated criminal charges.

      I agree that this particular operation broke down in many areas, not the least being the apparent lack of leadership by NYPD. The occasions when their command staff–Lieutenants and above–were at the scene of, or in some cases actively participated in, the most egregious acts of excessive force indicate that there may be a serious lack of internalized ethics as opposed to ethics imposed by fiat. The only ethics that really matter in these situations are those in which you truly believe, not those that someone else imposes on you.

      Perhaps the NYPD is, in reality, too large to be effectively operated as it currently exists. The NYPD is nearly three times as large as the next largest police department (Chicago) and more than four times as large as the third largest (LAPD). We’ve all read or heard about the problems in those departments over the years and, when you increase the number of people, you obviously increase the possibility for some of them to be less than completely professional (read: useless a**es with no redeeming virtues). Even in my Midwestern department (MUCH smaller than any of these three) there were people who were actively recruited for employment who, eventually, showed their true abilities. Most of them were quietly eased out or moved to positions where they couldn’t do any damage, but occasionally one would screw up in some spectacular way and it ALWAYS cost the department money.

      Lawsuits are probably impending and should be, not only against the individuals involved, but against the department for a little legality called “failure to supervise”. This doctrine, which is one of the reasons that police procedure manuals run to thousands of pages, REQUIRES every level within the department, up to and including the chief officer of the department, to aggressively supervise ALL of their subordinates to prevent things like excessive force and criminal activity.

      In reply to your second comment, every decision to use law enforcement in this type of situation is made by the politicians who ultimately control the department because they control the purse strings. Politicians always know where their monetary support comes from and spend at least some of their time providing services and support to these sources. If you don’t think so, just invite the Mayor to your party on a night when some of the city’s “movers and shakers” are also having a party and see which one he or she goes to. Of course, it’s a waste of all that training time, but the politicos usually get what they want, one way or another.

      I guess I’ll go ahead and do a little Monday morning quarterbacking of my own. We have a couple of these privately owned public spaces here, also. They have the same rules as any of our other parks–no admittance between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM unless a special permit is acquired. These permits are given for a very small number of reasons such as Independence Day fireworks. The stated reason for this curfew is to deter vandalism and public displays of affection (prostitution).These regulations are posted at every entrance to every public park and even, occasionally, referenced in the newspaper and on radio and television news programs. Anyone found in the parks during these hours is cited for “being in a park after hours” and escorted out. If they refuse to leave, they are arrested for trespassing. It doesn’t matter what your reason is for being in the park, without the permit you get the citation. It has nothing to do with your freedom of speech, it’s where you are physically present. If you violate this well known, and well posted, city ordinance, you get the citation, no exceptions.

      If a group such as the ones described in these news stories was to appear during the day in one of our parks and refuse to leave at 10:00 PM, as required, a group of officers (not the riot squad although, depending on the size of the group, it might be standing by at an off-site location) would be dispatched to enforce the curfew. The officers selected for these types of enforcement activities are normally the most experienced and least excitable members of the department. The idea would be to push the crowd toward the parking area where, hopefully, the majority of he group would just give up and go home. Those closest to the officers would be cited for the curfew violation but most of them would “escape” and clear the park, which is the ultimate goal. A few trespassing arrests would probably be needed, just to emphasize the point, but most of the crowd would just melt away. Mind you, this would be on the FIRST day of the occupation, not however many weeks later that the NYPD decided to clear the park–after the OWS group had coalesced into a social unit determined to oppose any other viewpoint.

      The point I’m making is that, no matter what your grievance is, you should not be allowed to break the law to air it. If you want to picket and tell your story in a lawful manner, whether in front of city hall or a private business or anywhere else in the universe, you can do so, as long as you are peaceful, don’t block access, stay on public property, and don’t break the law (even the “minor” law of violating a curfew).

      1. For the following

             sanction, such as limited uty, suspension

        I meant to say

             sanctions, such as limited duty, suspension

        Limited duty means they take away your gun and your arrest authority and you get to review the paperwork of the officers doing “real” police work.

  28. The problem with this document is that it presupposes “disorder” without even bothering to clarify what is meant by the term, let alone how to check for it.  Even given a state of disorder, nowhere does it present guidance for LEOs to recognize when order has been restored, or what LEO behavior ought to be when that happens.  Any legitimate guide to the legal (and sometimes necessary) over-riding of human rights needs to include guidance on when and how to pull back and/or stop.  Otherwise it is too easy to continue, and even escalate the situation uncontrollably.

  29. “The point I’m making is that, no matter what your grievance is, you should not be allowed to break the law to air it.”

    Tell it to Rosa Parks.

    Though I must admit that I’ve always been baffled by the whole tent city thing regarding OWS. What does a tent city have anything to do with Wall Street?

    1. As sometimes happens, what my brain composed and what my typing finger typed weren’t exactly the same thing. What I should have typed was “The point I’m making is that, no matter what your grievance is, you should not be allowed to break the law to air it, unless you are willing to face the consequences.”

      I admire anyone who is willing to give up their personal freedom to make their point. I don’t know that I would have the intestinal fortitude to emulate them. Rosa Parks and the entire civil rights movement happened when I was a child, but I’ve always admired them and their cause, knowing now that I probably wouldn’t have been able to join them.
      The American Revolution was initiated by people who had the guts to break the existing unfair laws and look where that got us. We now have the freedom to protest the government and everything it does.

      My personal take on this situation is that the politicians and others who were making the initial decisions erred by not taking immediate action to enforce the laws, if they were going to enforce them at all. The longer they waited, the more they compounded their error. After the OWS people gained popularity, it became more and more unlikely that the outcome of ANY enforcement action would be positive.

      Again, I believe that a lack of leadership, beginning at the very top, was the major cause of this entire debacle and the ensuing consequences. These people probably thought that there was a chance they might be arrested at some point, but they probably never even imagined that the people they had elected to govern them would resort to physical violence towards peaceful people. There is no way anyone with any conscience at all can condone the types of attacks we have seen.

      I am very glad that so many people were there who were able to record the process. Some public officials, including many police officers, believe that recording or photography of the public acts of public officials should be forbidden. My former department has had in-car video recorders since the early 90’s. These recorders are automatically activated whenever the overhead lights are on. We also have handheld video cameras in use in the jail. These cameras are not only used to document the activities of arrestees, they have been used to exonerate officers of accusations of excessive force. In this instance, however, the recordings documented excessive force and criminal activity. Now it’s up to the same elected officials who screwed this up to fix it and it may never be completely fixed.

    2. “Though I must admit that I’ve always been baffled by the whole tent city thing regarding OWS. What does a tent city have anything to do with Wall Street?”

      Wall Street caused millions of people to lose their homes in order to pad their margins, a highly public tent city is a literal, and I think quite effective, representation of that.

  30. LOL “Air Mail”. I assume that to be stuff that protestors throw at police… As in “Incoming Air Mail, watch out!”

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