Phoenix has been the site of massive, volatile protests like the one that started Saturday morning in Charlottesville, but a law enforcement expert says keeping opposing sides apart is essential in reducing the risk of violence.
“That can be a street, that can be a block, that can be a section of your city,” says retired Phoenix police commander Jeffeory Hynes, who now serves as Department Chair of Public Safety Sciences with Glendale Community College.
Hynes helped manage protests at the height of the SB 1070 debate. He says he often met with leaders on each side to discuss ground rules, their rights and restrictions under the law.
For one march, Hynes says he was told to expect up to 3,000 protesters but wound up managing about 30,000 people. He says there’s a national standard law enforcement refers to to prepare for worst-case scenarios.
“If you lose control then all you’re doing is picking up the pieces,” says Hynes.
Even with a successful “buffer zone,” Hynes says agitators will try to incite violence so arrests will occur. But Hynes says based on what Charlottesville citizens are saying in news reports, it appears law enforcement there is striking the right tone.
“Polite, they’ve been professional, they’ve been accommodating. Those are exactly the comments that you want to hear from the public.”
Hynes says the presence of weapons can mean more work for law enforcement and increased chances for violence.
“Now we have to put extra resources not only to protect them but to manage them,” says Hynes referring to armed militias. He adds, while militias will wear costumes mimicking police uniforms, he says law enforcement “knows who’s who out there.”
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