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Crisis Management and why Police Organizations Fail to Control Mob Riots

There is a need for Liberia to right size and consolidate all its security agencies under a joint command, and call it “Liberian Homeland Security (LHS).” There is a well-written plan that principally serves as guide for all entities protecting the Liberian nation. 

CDC Riot

Although the primary aim of LHS is to secure Liberia from those seeking to disrupt the way of life of all lawful citizens, its mandates also include preparing and responding to national calamities at the full confidence of the people of Liberia. This strategic plan seeks to eliminate waste and ineffectiveness resulting from overlapping of functions, with too many units performing one and the same duties. Being a unified agency, LHS will jointly coordinate its distinctive missions, operations, and activities of various security components.

It requires a cohesively sound managerial know how as the key to realize both the goals of LHS and its various components. Every Liberian of service age must be given the impartial privilege to proportionally serve their country, as long as he or she meets the vetting process. Liberian youths, who are of service age but were previously prevented from serving for not completing high school, must be enrolled in a general education development program under the joint tutelage of LHS and the Ministry of Education. This program will afford participants the ability to earn a General High School Equivalency Diploma (GHSED). A GHSED could also help those Liberians who do not meet the requirements of enrolling in K12. A comprehensive proposal of LHS is inclusive in a strategic national security plan written by the author.

Why police organizations fail to handle riots?

By their nature, crisis situations present moments that test the resolve of the police to preserve standards of ethical behavior (Magers, 2007).  Consequently, hooliganism, vandalism, hostage events, and hostile barricaded subjects warrant situations, create real and imaginary need for swift action and resolution. The desire for a quick and often-pressured need for quick resolution creates conditions, requiring expedient measures to obtain a win-win outcome. But, sometimes the consequences to expedient measures are disastrous, and may or may not have been anticipated. Carroll, Ben-Zadok, and McCue (2009, p. 221) argued that, “if bad consequences were anticipated but ignored during implementation of a strategy, to achieve a desired goal, then such acts may have created circumstances where swift action unnecessarily leads to ill-conceived responses to the crisis, which in retrospect, are ethically indefensible.” The recent police actions in Liberia, dubbed “Bloody Monday,” are partly discussed in this analysis.

Nihilistic as it may, the dismissal of the Liberian National Police Chief, Marc Amblard for his handling of the post-Liberian presidential election riot, probably defused the tension, which was increasingly building up by the day. Mr. Amblard may not have been the only police chief hoping that a big crisis like ‘Bloody Monday’ sparks up under his watch. Frankly, crises like Bloody Monday; the recent London riot; and the way the French handled the Paris riots stemming from immigrants few years ago, tests the resolve of police organizations. For instance, following many months of careful planning, former Seattle Police Chief, Norm Stamper’s handling of a-50, 000 or so strong rioters, which barricaded the City of Seattle to prevent a World Trade Organization (WTO) summit from taking place, ended as a complete law enforcement farce (Wilson, 1999).

Accordingly, the protest activity surrounding the WTO (dubbed “N30 or Battle of Seattle”) since it was scheduled to convene on November 30, 1999, is a regular global confab, which sets the terms of reference of international trades and negations (see Gillham & Marx, 1999, ed.). N30 is recorded as one of the fiercest protests against police presence in the history of law enforcement (SPD Report, 1999). While it could be said that the bulk of protestors were relatively peaceful, few of the 50,000 to 100,000 people who participated in the WTO demonstration resorted to vandalism, looting, throwing of stones, objects, human fesses and urination, Molotov Cocktail, and others (Christian, 2000). This was exactly what ensued during the Bloody Monday protest in Liberia, which later turned violent (Aljazeera, 2011). 

One of the many reasons why Liberia should quickly move to unify its security operations under a single body, is to avoid sparse divisional bickering during emergency times among security personnel responding to a crisis. Not only was it unprofessional to see personnel of the LNP being chased around and wrestled down by their international counterparts, it straddles the process of ethical coordination, required for crowd control. Bluntly put, it’s like the left is unaware of what the right is doing. On the contrary, in Seattle, although the exact number of demonstrators is still not known, it has been estimated at 40,000, 50,000 and 100,000, with a-police strength of only 900. But it was the Washington National Guard, which rescued the day. In the United States, the lessons learnt from the 9/11 terrorist onslaught on New York, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, and the Katrina saga were enough to bring all crises response organizations under a unified command. Nonetheless, one crucial thesis question is:

1.   When does the use of force against a group of demonstrators some of which are engaged in vandalism, consider excessive?  

This analysis further tells some ethical concerns in crises involving barricaded subjects, who may require commanders of crisis situation to consider, before placing themselves in crisis mode. Sometimes, once you are in a crisis mode, the chances of getting out, or contemplate alternative actions, are slim. While legal issues may not be specifically addressed here, but it is recognized that adherence to the law is crucial to ethical conduct. The focus will be the ethical or moral implications as they affect crisis management policy. Ethical concerns in crisis situations are as numerous as the decisions made during the actual event. Anticipating all such ethical decisions and concerns in advance is impossible. In a much broader research, the writer identified and discussed categories of principles and tactics, which are faced by crisis negotiators. These ethical concerns have been found useful in guiding managers trapped in crisis situations. In discussing these ethical concerns three critical questions will be addressed.

1. What are the challenges for police leaders in crisis leadership?

2. What are the ethical issues in hostage/crisis negotiation situations?

3. How do we ethically meet the demands of addressing these issues and meeting these challenges?

 

What are some of the challenges police officers face in their leadership endeavor?

 

Simply put, crises consist of a series of dynamically chaotic events (Boin &‘t’ Hart, 2003). Earlier, German sociologist, Ulrich Beck defined a “risky society,” as one where public safety and security are high priorities (p. 545). However, there is a big gap between what the public expects of their law enforcement agencies versus what is truly delivered. So, what does the public expect from their leaders in a crisis situation? One of those popular expectations is that police authorities put the safety of the public first.

 

However, Magers (2007, p. 10) argued that, “the costs of regulating and maintaining maximum public safety, are politically and economically costly. “ Another popular expectation is that police leaders should prepare for the worst. Research has demonstrated that, a number of government and business leaders are not willing to prepare themselves for their crisis-response roles (Mehrotra, Znati, & Thompson, 2008, p. 14).

 

Additionally, police leaders are expected to heed to future warnings regarding crisis in waiting. Nevertheless, man-made disasters, such as riots, are mostly preceded by incubation periods—time between planning and the event. Inevitably, during incubation periods, policy makers pretend to have the answers, and are sometimes ignorant of, or simply tend to overlook repeated signs of the danger ahead. The public does expect crisis leader to take full control of the situation, by giving clear directives to crisis-management operations (CMOs).  Successful CMOs are polycentric, multi-organizational, trans-jurisdictional, and serve as response network.

 

CMOs need to be coordinated laterally, not top-down command and control. LNP should have sketched a joint plan with UNMIL, and executed same as a CMO. Because one was not in place, personnel confronting angry demonstrators were left with no alternatives, but fight back. Was there a state of emergency declared? Or was there a curfew in place?

Crisis leaders are expected to be compassionate toward victims of crises. Such understanding should be thoroughly articulated verbally over public announcements (PA), and in deeds. It is the duty of leaders to care for victims, but usually those same leaders become prey to their own unrealistic pledges. They sometime go all-out to learn from their mistakes, but in most times, they allow themselves to get caught in the politics of blaming, which dominates the aftermath of contemporary crises. 

Finally, in his doctoral dissertation, the writer argued that, security and counter-terrorism are significant issues for national governments today. To combat this rising global threat, and in the interest of national security, governments must be willing to substantially invest in their security enterprises. In addition to other post-conflict issues on how to reduce the future generational growth of terrorists through good governance and the rule of law, the study sought to understand how and to what degree police organizations improve their internal organizational systems of response to counter-terrorism; how they develop new policies and procedures to meet rising demands imposed by terrorism (Gray, n.d.).

Copyright protected. Excerpt from a national security plan written by Edmond Remie Gray. Please forward all inquiries to remiegray@gmail.com 

Reference

Christian, N. M. (2000-06-04). Police brace for protest in Windsor and Detroit. New York Times.

Colin McDonald (January 30, 2007). “Jury says Seattle violated WTO protesters’ rights”. Seattle Post Intelligencer.

Gillham, P. F., & Marx, Gary T. (1999). Complexity and Irony in Policing: The World Trade Organization in Seattle (ed.) by de Armond, Paul, Netwar in the Emerald City: WTO Protest Strategy and Tactics, pp. 216-217.

Gray, E. R. (n.d.). Reducing the growth of future generational terrorists: Poverty reduction strategy and long-term counterterrorism measure. Criminal Justice, School of Public Policy and Administration.Minneapolis, MinnesotaWalden University. Proposed Dissertation, Doctor of Philosophy: 321.

Mehrotra, S., Znati, T., & Thompson, C. W. (2008). Crisis management. IEEE Computer Society, Pp. 14-17.

Seattle Police Department (1999/11/29). The Seattle Police Department After Action Report: World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference Seattle, Washington November 29 – December 3, 1999, p. 41.

Wilson, K. A. C. (1999/12/07). Embattled police chief resigns. Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

 

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