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Joint Public Safety Response to Large Scale Civil Disturbance

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Maxwell Air Force Base Gunter Annex

550 Mcdonald Street, Bldg 1143

Montgomery, AL 36109

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Joint Public Safety Response to Large-Scale Civil Unrest™


Large scale-civil unrest events have occurred in various cities throughout the United States. Notable riots include the 1965 Watts (Los Angeles riots), the 1968 Holy Week Uprising riots (multiple cities), the 1977 New York City blackout, the 1967 Detroit 12th Street riots, the 1992 Los Angeles Rodney King riots, the 2014 Ferguson riots, the 2015 Baltimore riots, the 2016 Charlotte riots, and the 2016 Seattle riots. In each event, protesters conducted violent and hostile actions against public safety personnel. In many of the protests, multiple arson fires were set.

Every city in the United States is at risk for a large-scale civil unrest event. Causal events include sporting event wins/losses, law enforcement officer-involved-shootings, political protests/rallies, private business malfeasance (New York City stock exchange collapse), and more. Civil unrest events have occurred in large and small cities alike. The common theme with all of these events is that local public safety had only a few hours’ notice to respond to these events.

In the 2014 Ferguson riots, United States law enforcement saw the return of professional, serial arsonists and Molotov cocktails thrown at first responders. This is now a common theme in civil unrest events. The introduction of fire-as-a-weapon adds a very specific dimension to the protests that public safety officials must address. Universally, experts agree that the introduction of fires at civil unrest events only increases protester agitation and escalates violence.

Protesters also frequently deploy body fluid “bombs” at officers, chemical “bombs”, explosive devices, and other potentially deadly weapons. Integrated fire/EMS rescue task forces provide civil unrest (riot response) platoons with downed-officer rescue, fire-as-a-weapon immediate response, hasty decontamination of body fluid/chemical bombs, and emergent civilian rescues.

The presenters work in a jurisdiction that has trained integrated fire/EMS response with civil unrest officers since 2011. The presenters have also conducted numerous large-scale civil unrest exercises utilizing the rescue task force concept, and the fire department structural fire civil unrest task force response. The presenters served as front-line responders and incident commanders in a multi-day riot event in a large, metropolitan city. Reviews of large-scale civil unrest event demonstrate that these events occur with little to no notice, and all public safety agencies must plan and prepare for an effective response. In many of the events, an aggressive fire department response is necessary to combat the increasing frequency of arson events and deliberate fire-as-a-weapon attacks against law enforcement.

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Maxwell Air Force Base Gunter Annex

550 Mcdonald Street, Bldg 1143

Montgomery, AL 36109

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