Crowd Behavior, Crowd Control, and the Use of Non-Lethal Weapons
PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV UNIVERSITY PARK APPLIED RESEARCH LAB
Pagination or Media Count:
The Human Effects Advisory Panel convened from 12-14 September 2000. Its purpose was to assess crowd behavior and the potential for crowd control. This is a leading core capability sought by the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Program. The need to thoroughly examine crowd behavior grew out of the Panels previous assessments of non-lethal weapons, which are being designed for crowd control. The following is a summary of the Panels findings. Military and law enforcement concepts on crowd control are based on stereotypes that have been questioned by social scientists. These scientists have gathered empirical data, indicating that 1 Crowds are not homogeneous entities all participants are not the same. 2 Crowds are not made up of isolated individuals, but of companion clusters, which arrive, remain and leave together. 3 Crowd participants are not unanimous in motives. 4 Crowd participants do not necessarily assume a sense of anonymity. 5 Crowds are not given to unique emotional displays. 6 Crowd participants seldom act in unison and, if they do, it does not last long. Crowds do not cripple individual cognition. 7 Crowds are more of a process they have a beginning, middle and end. 8 Crowds are not uniquely distinguished by violence. Social, political and economic factors are not consistent predictors of riot intensity. Military and law enforcement must rethink crowd control. New approaches should be based on this empirical evidence as well as the practical experiences of the law enforcement community. Additionally, this information should serve as the basis for new training and decision-making protocols for crowd control.
- Defense Systems