Occupy movement changing how police operate

January 9, 2012 6:46:48 PM PST
The Occupy movement is changing the way police operate. That's what top law enforcement officials are saying at a meeting at the University of San Francisco.

Just as the attack on 9/11 dramatically changed the security needs of the country and even the world, new protest tactics and modern technology are revolutionizing the way law enforcement deals with civil disobedience and crowd control.

"During the height of the Occupy demonstration in Oakland one day, there was a request for about 750 mutual aid officers,"

As a state emergency management agency official, Chief Robert Gerber coordinates police mutual aid requests from local law enforcement. Gerber says with money and resources drying up, police departments are increasingly turning to other agencies to back them up, especially now.

"With this Occupy demonstration, it's a new phenomenon," Gerber said. "We're seeing day after day mutual aid being called."

Many police agencies are creating what's called a "mobile field force" to respond to mutual aid calls; units trained in the same way as their counterparts in other police departments.

"We're talking the same terminology, we're wearing the same equipment [and] we have the same philosophies of crowd control management," -Deputy Chief Jim Dudley--SF POLICE DEPT.-

Police say new technology such as smartphones have revolutionized the way protesters are taking to the streets.

"They're able to mobilize large numbers and more quickly, they're re able to communicate more effectively and they are also able to spin the situation much better and we got to stay on top of it," Gerber said.

After a police sergeant used pepper spray on students at an Occupy protest at UC Davis, Gov. Jerry Brown asked the state agency that trains police, called POST, to review its crowd control procedures. We're told POST will have a new set of standards shortly.