More than a dozen cities have reviewed the police response to Black Lives Matter protests and the reports show “poorly trained, over-militarized, and stunningly unprepared” police forces across the country.
According to the New York Times, the missteps transcended staffing levels and financial resources meaning police departments from New York to Indianapolis were unprepared to deal with the protests. That includes everyone from top commanders to beat officers were not only unprepared and untrained to deal with the protests, but many of their actions did the exact opposite of what was intended.
The Times analyzed reports across the country by watchdog organizations and outside investigators in nine major cities and post-action examinations by police in five other large cities. One of the conclusions drawn from almost every report was that officers need more training when dealing with large, organized protests.
They also offered a range of proposals to improve and lessen the number of incidents between protestors and police. Those include entire departments working with community organizers and consulting with civil rights attorneys on protest-management solutions. Police leaders developing more restrictive guidelines for tear gas, rubber bullets, and other crowd-controlling weapons. The suggestions also include officers receiving more training to control their emotions and aggression in the moment.
The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement began last summer after the death of George Floyd. More than 100 cities across the nation began marching and protesting against police brutality and called to defund police budgets and put more money into social services such as drug addiction and prevention, mental health services, and youth education and sports.
The overwhelming majority of those protests were peaceful, especially during the day. However, many were escalated by police actions. In New York, one officer shoved a woman violently to the ground. In Florida, a White cop shoved a Black woman kneeling in front of him and had to be removed from the area by a Black female officer.
In some incidents, the police themselves were under attack and forced to respond to buildings being burned stores being looted, and police being ambushed by protestors including one incident where a woman threw a Molotov cocktail at a police vehicle.
Amnesty International has logged more than 120 incidents of violence by police in 40 different states during the summer of protests.
In the aftermath, more than a dozen cities cut their police budgets, redistributing their funds to various social services and introducing programs where social service officers will respond to non-emergency calls including mental health calls.