Oakland Police Chief Promises Protest Reforms

In the wake of the Occupy protests-turned-riots in Oakland, the city’s police chief has announced new procedures and policies governing how the department responds to large crowds.

The new policy focuses a targeted approach to problem protesters, while protecting the rights to peaceably assemble. To achieve this goal, the department will send small teams of police into the protest to identify and remove problem protesters, while others continue to demonstrate. It is part of a larger movement of reform that will also include new training for officers and increased scrutiny of uses of force.

Officers who are dispatched into the crowds will still be armed with less-lethal weapons, including batons and beanbag bullets. However, the smaller presence of officers and increased attempts to make dispersion orders heard by all members of the protest could help peaceably disperse crowds.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Stung by criticism over his officers’ actions during Occupy Oakland protests and other demonstrations, Police Chief Howard Jordan said Monday he was ordering “major reforms” in how police deal with large crowds.

Smaller groups of officers will go into crowds to weed out problem protesters, and officers will make every effort to ensure that demonstrators hear dispersal orders and are given a chance to leave, Jordan said at a City Hall news conference. Within the next week, all officers will have undergone training on how to handle large crowds, he said.

Read the full article here.

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