- Associated Press - Sunday, November 22, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Police in Ohio’s capital city say they’re trying a new approach to quell potential riots.

The Columbus Dispatch reports (https://bit.ly/1QVIsQD ) nearly 2,000 Columbus police officers have been trained in crowd-control techniques at a city police academy.

Lt. Steve Wilkinson, an advanced-training instructor at the academy, says police no longer have to use large, field-force contingents. Officers in January dispersed crowds celebrating Ohio State University’s national championship victory in football. Police used tear gas and pepper spray on the crowd and several dozen fires were set.

“It’s a new approach to the old way of doing things,” said Sgt. Rich Weiner, a division spokesman.

Officers are now being trained to break into small groups that are more effective in tight spaces and how to work without batons and shields. Police say research indicates speed is vital because crowds can shift quickly from celebrating to destroying things.

“This fact reinforces the need for the police to respond as quickly as possible, with adequate force and with the flexibility that is the signature of mobile tactics,” wrote retired Los Angeles County Undersheriff Jerry Harper in a 2012 article for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “The longer it takes to respond decisively, the more likely the riot is to attract more participants and spread to other parts of the city.”

Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs acknowledged that police and the university needed to communicate better. She also found that the division’s riot training needed to be examined, as protests have turned violent in the past year in other U.S. cities.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, https://www.dispatch.com


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