Experts See Improvements Over 1960s in Police Behavior at Protests


Except for a few well-publicized incidents, most law enforcement experts say the tactics for policing Occupy Wall Street protests have changed dramatically for the better compared with how they might have been handled in the 1960s and 1970s, during the height of the anti-Vietnam War and the Civil Rights-era demonstrations. “There is a world of difference,” said Samuel Walker, an emeritus professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska Omaha, told The Crime Report. “It's like night and day. In terms of police policy, command-and-control and accountability, (the 1960s) were the dark ages. There were almost no written policies or training on how to handle these kinds of situations.”

William J. Bratton, a former police chief of Los Angeles and a former police commissioner in Boston and New York City, characterized the shift in protest policing as a “sea change.” “The changes have been significant,” said Bratton, who is now the chairman of Kroll, a subsidiary of the international private security firm Altegrity. “The training of police officers is more significant than it was. One thing police seek to do now is to have more dialogue, a lot more engagement with people they are trying to deal with.”

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