The right to engage in peaceful demonstration is a cornerstone of American democracy. Yet sometimes police fail to strike the right balance, approaching demonstrations as a threat to public safety, rather than as an expression of constitutionally protected rights. This results in bad outcomes, for protestors and for police. In our current era of social unrest, fueled by concerns over equity and racial justice, guidance on how to ensure that the public can exercise its right to protest safely is more important than ever.
The Policing Project at the New York University School of Law has released a set of materials on best practices for policing demonstrations. Drawing from social science and learned experiences of policing leaders themselves, these resources outline how policing agencies can and should strike the balance between protecting public safety and protecting democratic freedoms, serving as a resource to guide law enforcement agencies and the officals who oversee them. The report outlines a clear approach that emphasizes transparent communication, de-escalation, and a healthy relationship between police and the communities they serve.
The Policing Project is sharing these resources with ICMA and its members. Download the report here.