Portland, OR (KPTV) — The Portland Police Bureau just released a new podcast, focusing on demonstrations and protests.
It’s offering a behind the scenes look at how police prepare for the crowds.
The podcast about crowd management pulls back the curtains a bit on what goes into keeping the city safe during protests.
In light of upcoming demonstrations planned for Saturday, it’s timely information, as police prepare.
In the podcast, leaders within the PPB said their work to keep demonstrations safe really starts before anyone gathers at all.
They use an “incident command system” to gather information about the event, things like: if it’s a permitted gathering, where it’ll be, a crowd-size estimate and if they plan to march.
In the meantime, police liaisons also reach out to different groups involved in the protests prior to the event which the PPB said helps manage the event before it even starts.
Once the event is “sized up”, the team meets for a tactics meeting, and police come up with priorities for the event.
“We look at past history, have these groups come together before? If so, what happened, if anything? Has there been any violence when these groups come together? Are there any other events going on in the city the same day?” PPB North Precinct Commander Wendi Steinbronn said.
Once they answer those questions the operations chief, who is the one on the radio giving orders the day of the demonstration helps determine the tactics to be used.
The team also looks at what other resources might be needed the day of whether it’s city parks, PBOT or the mayor’s office.
Also, the PPB’s rapid response team which has received extra training in crowd control prepares to attend the event.
They also spoke about why they don’t just arrest people being violent in the crowd.
“Unfortunately, it’s difficult to do that safely. Traditionally the people that are engaging in criminal activity do so from behind the first several rows of people who are just there engaging in speech with the police,” Steinbronn said.
The podcast also addressed what officers wear during protests.
Many have voiced opinions on what they call “riot gear”, and said it’s intimidating.
PPB said all of the equipment is designed to protect officers saying in the past, protesters have thrown things at officers like bottles, bricks and fireworks.
During the event, PPB said officers monitor what’s happening from the command center, via live stream and of course what officers are seeing in the crowd.
Then decisions are made, based on the crowd, demeanor and potential for violence.
After the event, they de-brief and discuss what went well, and what didn’t so they know what to do next time.