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Crisis Management Operation: How Crowd/Riot-Control Tactics

should be done

I. Introduction

Crisis management is the process by which an organization deals with

a major event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders,

or the general public. The study of crisis management originated with

the large-scale industrial and environmental disasters in the 1980s. It is

considered to be the most important process in public relations.

Three elements are common to a crisis: (a) a threat to the organization,

(b) the element of surprise, and (c) a short decision time. Venette

argues that "crisis is a process of transformation where the old system

can no longer be maintained." Therefore, the fourth defining quality is

the need for change. If change is not needed, the event could more

accurately be described as a failure or incident.

In contrast to risk management, which involves assessing potential

threats and finding the best ways to avoid those threats, crisis

management involves dealing with threats before, during, and after

they have occurred. It is a discipline within the broader context of

management consisting of skills and techniques required to identify,

assess, understand, and cope with a serious situation, especially from

the moment it first occurs to the point that recovery procedures start.

Riot control refers to the measures used by police, military, or other

security forces to control, disperse, and arrest people who are involved
in a riot, demonstration, or protest. If a riot is spontaneous and

irrational, actions which cause people to stop and think for a moment

(e.g. loud noises or issuing instructions in a calm tone) can be enough

to stop it. However, these methods usually fail when there is severe

anger with a legitimate cause, or the riot was planned or

organized. Law enforcement officers or military personnel have long

used less lethal weapons such as batons and whips to disperse crowds

and detain rioters. Since the 1980s, riot control officers have also

used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and electrictasers. In some

cases, riot squads may also use Long Range Acoustic Devices, water

cannons, vehicles, aerial, police dogs or mounted police on horses.

Officers performing riot control typically wear protective equipment

such as riot helmets, face visors, body armor (vests, neck protectors,

knee pads, etc.), gas masks and riot shields. However, there are also

cases where lethal weapons are used to violently suppress a protest or

riot, as in the Boston Massacre, Haymarket Massacre, Banana

Massacre, Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Kent State

Massacre, Soweto Uprising, Mendiola Massacre, Bloody Sunday

(1905), Bloody Sunday (1972) and Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Any large gathering of people presents special challenges to law

enforcement agencies regardless of the type of crowd or its reasons for

assembling. Problems associated with crowds range from minor acts of

public disorder and vandalism to large-scale riots. Understanding the

dynamics of crowds and crowd behaviors is essential in formulating

and implementing appropriate law enforcement responses.

A. How Crowd/Riot-Control Works in United States Of America:

Riot Control Tactics

The tactics used to control riots in the past were simple -- they were

based on the fact that the police were almost always better-armed than

the rioters. The tactics they used basically consisted of forming a line

and charging into the crowd. Today, the police are still well-armed, but

tactics have advanced significantly in hopes of preventing injuries.

When a riot is in full swing, police will deploy in a square formation with

a command team at the center. The command team is protected on all

four sides by echelons of troops deployed in groups of 10 or 12

officers. There is also an arrest team at the center of the square.

Riot-control Technology

When a crowd-control unit gets ready for action, the first thing it does is

put on protective gear. The full outfit is known as hard tac and consists


Helmet with face shield

Body armor

Large body shield

Both the body shield and face shield are made of Lexan. Lexan can

be bullet-proof if it is thick enough, but for this application, it isn't meant

to stop bullets -- it only protects against thrown objects and shrapnel

from incendiary devices.

Riot Control Rounds

Some of the rounds available to riot-control officers include:

Blunt-force rounds - These rounds cause pain when they strike, but

they don't penetrate the skin. They are often fired at the ground so the

round skips off the pavement and strikes the rioters in the legs.

Crowd-control Philosophy: Prevention

Today's riot control units aren't usually called riot squads -- they

are crowd-management units. Instead of trying to "beat" the rioters in

battle, the police just try to calm them down and get them to go home.

The use of force, even non-lethal force, is a last resort.

The first step in crowd management is making sure a riot doesn't

happen in the first place. Although sometimes riots erupt unexpectedly,

they are frequently tied to planned protests and organized strikes.

When the police think there is the potential that such a situation could

get out of control, they contact the organizers and leaders of the

protest or strike ahead of time. They set up ground rules that the

protestors are to follow, and they designate a specific area for the

event to happen in. The police assign specially trained officers

to monitor the event. The point is that the police will simply provide a

presence and work to ensure that everyone stays safe. Only if the

ground rules are broken will any police action be needed at all.
Crowd-control Philosophy: Conflict

If a crowd gets unruly and starts taking violent action, then the police

will switch to a more aggressive attitude. Their actions here reflect the

fact that almost all riots are incited and lead by a few individuals who

feel strongly or have something to gain from a violent confrontation.

The majority of the people present either show up because something

exciting is going on or are bystanders who got carried into the mob

mentality. Faced with the possibility of arrest or confrontation with

police, most of them simply want to escape and go home.

The first step is simple intimidation. Riot officers stand in strict

formations and act with military precision. Once they form echelons --

lines of officers that effectively work as barriers -- the officers tap their

batons on their shields or stomp their feet in unison. The result can be

quite frightening to unarmed civilians -- it looks and sounds as if this

group of armed and armored officers is getting ready to come crashing

down with clubs swinging. In truth, this display is meant to scare off as

many of the rioters as possible without the officers ever getting near


B. How Crowd/Riot-Control Works in Philippines:


SECTION 1. General Guidelines the PNP units tasked to maintain

peace and order shall not interfere with the holding of public assembly.

To ensure public safety, a Civil Disturbance Management (CDM)

contingent under the command of a Police Commissioned Of!cer

(PCO) with the rank of Police Senior Inspector or higher shall be

detailed and stationed at least 100 meters away from the place where

the public assembly is being held. In the absence of any permit from

the LGU concerned, the PCO in command should exert effort in

persuading the demonstrators to disperse peacefully and vacate the

public place. In lightning rallies or demonstrations, the Ground

Commander shall exhaust efforts through dialogue with the

leaders/organizers for voluntary dispersal. In case of failure, orderly

dispersal to include apprehension of those responsible is resorted to.

SECTION 2. Specific Guidelines

a. When assistance is requested by the leaders/ organizers, it shall be

imperative for the CDM contingent to perform their duties while

observing the rights of demonstrators. Further, the members of the

CDM contingent dealing with the demonstrators shall be in prescribed


b. The CDM contingent shall not carry any kind of firearms but maybe

equipped with baton or riot sticks, crash helmets with visor, gas masks,

boots or ankle-high shoes with shin guards.

c. Tear gas, smoke grenades, water cannons, or any similar antiriot

device shall not be used unless the public assembly is attended by

actual violence or serious threats of violence, or deliberate destruction

of property. Maximum tolerance shall always be observed.

d. The organization and membership of CDM contingents, as well as

their deployment and employment, shall be in accordance with existing

PNP rules and regulations.

SECTION 3. CDM Operational Tasks

a. Isolate the area

b. Secure likely targets

c. Control crowds

d. Establish area control

e. Neutralize special threats

SECTION 4. CDM Operational Approaches

a. The commitment of CDM contingent must be viewed as a last resort.

Their role, therefore, should never be greater than what is necessary

under the circumstances. This does not mean though that the number

of troops employed should be minimized. Doubts concerning the

number of troops required should normally be resolved in favor of

deployment of large number since the presence of such large number

may prevent the development of situations in which the use of

excessive force would be necessary. A large reserve of troops should

be maintained during civil disturbance operations.

b. In selecting an operational approach to a civil disturbance situation,

the Ground Commander and his personnel must adhere to the

minimum necessary force principle.

c. Efforts should be exerted to create the image of a restrained and

well-disciplined force, the sole purpose of which is to assist in the

restoration of law and order. Further, while CDM contingent should be

visible, any activity which might excite rather than calm should be

avoided when possible.

d. Consistent with the controlling principle that he must use the

minimum necessary force to accomplish his mission, the Ground

Commander shall equip the CDM contingent only with rattan stick,

shield, Kevlar helmet and handcuffs.

II. Discussion

An example of a failed crowd control/anti-riot management can be seen

the famous Mendiola Massacre. What does the main reason behind

Mendiola Massacre that led the farmers to their misfortune? The

Cojuangco promised to give pieces of land by the small farmers but

failed to distribute it, so the farmers decided to set a protest rally that

would lead to economic sabotage. With this kind of civil disturbance the

government has already utilized procedures, they appointed certain

agencies and organizations to handle this kind of situation, and we can

also see if the implementation and the concrete action is well executed

or not. The problem though still arises, the government seemed to be

blinded of something because we can see the lapses even after

decades the government does not have a concrete and well-organized

plan for such problems.

Thirteen people were killed while several others were injured on

January 22, 1987, when authorities violently dispersed a farmers'

march at Mendiola Bridge in Manila. Dubbed as the "Mendiola

Massacre", the incident was the culmination of the protest action of the

militant group Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP), which

demanded genuine agrarian reform from the Aquino government. On

January 22, 1987 the day of the massacre, Tadeos group decided to

March to Malacanang to air their demands since the negotiation

between them and Alvarez failed, thats why the protesters decided to

march in Malacanang.

In anticipation of Civil Disturbance, the anti-riot personnel under the

command of Capital Regional Command (CAPCOM) General Ramon

Montano, Task Force Nazareno under the command of Col. Cesar

Nazareno, and police forces under the command of Western Police

District Brig. Gen Alfredo Lim were deployed around vicinity


The anti-riot forces were assembled at Mendiola in formation; the first

line was composed of policemen for Western Police District (WPD)

carrying standard CDC equipment (aluminum shields, truncheons and

gas mask) the second line of defense were the elements of Integrated

National Police (INP) also carrying the standard CDC equipment

(aluminum shield, truncheons and gas mask) and the third line was the
Marine Civil Disturbance Control Battalion equipped with shields,

truncheons and M-16 rifles. There were also army trucks occupying the

entire Mendiola, 2 water cannons, 8 water trucks and 2 Mobile

Dispersal Teams (MDT) each composed of 2 tear gas grenades, 2

spotters, an assistant grenadier, a driver and a team leader.

There was no dialogue between marchers and the anti-riot squad, it

was the moment that a clash occurred. The marchers were provoked

which is quite expected, there were throwing of stones, bottles, some

of them used wooden clubs and pipes against the police; the police

fought back with their shield while others breached not until it was

interrupted by sporadic firing, not only the demonstrators disengaged

but also the police. While the firing is ongoing, some policemen threw

stones at the protesters same with the protesters as they fought back

to the government forces. The area was immediately cleared aside

from the people laying on the ground, the firing continues on other

vicinity of Mendiola, the MTDs truck lobbed tear gas to other remaining

rallyist still grouped in the area.

After ceasefire, dead bodies are around the area, some people were

injured, no medics around, media personnel are the ones who checked

if there were people alive, other protesters helped their allies hoping

that they were still alive, they retrieved them through jeeps owned by

the members of the group.

III. Conclusion
Based on the discussion above, the Mendiola incident turned out to be

bloody because the crowd control unit of police and military failed to

follow the proper rules of engagement during rallies or demonstrations.

There were no negotiation conducted by the crowd control and they

violated the following sections: Paragraph 4 of Section 13 in Batasang

Pambansa 880, which prohibit the law enforcers to carry firearms and

the firing of firearms by a member of any law enforcement agency or

any person to disperse the public assembly, there was unnecessary

firing by the police and military crowd dispersal control units in

dispersing the marchers, a prohibited act under paragraph (e), Section

13, and punishable under paragraph (b), Section 14, Batas Pambansa

Blg. 880.

On the other hand, the protesters acted on violence as well, they

brought steel bars, pillboxes, darts, lead pipes, wooden clubs with

spikes and guns by the marchers as an offensive weapon which is

prohibited under Section 13 of Batasang Pambansa 880.

The non-lethal weapon like water cannon are not used because they it

was incorrectly position and they were out of range by the marchers,

which could be a good use to push away the protesters.

It just shows that Philippines crowd control unit does not have a proper

training and tactics with regards to this kind of situation, we are far

beyond compare to other countries.

IV. Recommendation
Given the nature of crowds, it is not always possible to be proactive to

individual events or have firm knowledge of crowd activity. Therefore, it

is necessary to establish crowd control policies and procedures that

are also reactive. The primary reactive activities are:

Establishing contact with the crowd

Implementing dispersal orders

Using force

Police tactics have often been seen as the contributing factor in

crowd aggression and hostility (Schweingruber 2000; Stott and Reicher

1998). Therefore, crowd control policies and procedures need to

explicitly state who is to establish contact with the crowd and the format

in which this contact will take place, how and when dispersal orders will

be carried out, and, most importantly, when and what types of physical

force will be used.

Physical force should be viewed as the last viable option but one

that must be applied to minimize the likelihood of police officers

needing to use deadly force. Types of no deadly physical force vary but

generally consist of nonlethal chemicals (for example, pepper spray,

mace), electrical control devices (for example, tasers, stun guns), and

less lethal options (for example, bean bags, rubber bullets). In using

force for crowd control purposes, the legal standard is based on

reasonableness of the force used. That is, consider whether the

amount and type of force used reflect the overall circumstances

presented to the law enforcement agency.

The unpredictable nature of crowds raises serious concerns of law

enforcement officials, elected officers, and the general public. However,

these concerns can be greatly minimized with the creation of proactive

crowd management strategies between law enforcement agencies and

community stakeholders, the establishment of detailed police policies

and procedures regarding crowd engagement and use of force, and

extensive training of law enforcement personnel.

V. References

Gavilan, Jodesz (January 2015). Still no justice for Mendiola Massacre.

Retrieved from


Atty. Fred (January 2008). The Mendiola Massacre: What happened

according to Jurisprudence. Retrieved from


Bernardo, Jesusa (January 2011). The heinous, Incredulous




Pinoy Weekly (January 2015).

Dumbar, Morales (January 2014).