I offer this timely blog posting by former City of Madison police chief David Couper about the on-going police response to protest singers at the State of Wisconsin Capitol.
Full disclosure: I knew then-Madison chief Couper when I worked in Mayor Paul Soglin's office in the 70's. Couper had been hired during the administration of Soglin's predecessor, William Dyke, in 1972. I played no role in Couper's selection.
He served as Madison police chief for more than 20 years, has two Master's degrees and has written three books.
After leaving the Madison policing position, Couper was ordained as an Episcopal Minister.
All in all, a bright, unusual person and I learned a lot from him.
Here's a highlight from his blog:
For over 20 years, we in Madison responded to anti-war rallies, civil rights demonstrations, student block parties, and other mass gatherings without substantial incident. How did that happen? We developed what today is being called the “soft approach” (see the recent work of Dr. Clifford Stott at the University of Liverpool.
What Stott and others found is that dialogue and liaison are effective police strategies in crowd situations because they allowed for an on-going risk assessment that improved command-level decision-making. Using this strategy, there was a better outcome because it also encouraged ‘self-regulation’ in the crowd and thus forestalled the use of unnecessary force by police during moments of tension. (For more, also READ THIS.]
As I found out during my career, physical force is not always the best first response. Thinking people know that. So should police and their leaders.