The Madison Police Department has a long history of working with our community and has developed a great deal of experience in facilitating and responding to pre-planned demonstrations, events, assemblies, marches, and spontaneous incidents. Our primary goal while managing large crowd situations is to maintain a safe and orderly event. Our officers are trained to respond with only the amount of force necessary to accomplish this goal.
The Madison Police Special Events Team was created fourteen years ago to address large scale crowd events. This specially trained Team has handled events such as Freak Fest, Rhythm and Booms, dignitary visits, Capitol protests, spontaneous sporting gatherings, political marches and demonstrations. The mission of the Special Events Team (and ultimately all of our officers) is to "protect the first amendment right of citizens to assemble peacefully and to voice their opinions on issues that are often sensitive and emotional in nature." We have an obligation to protect our citizens' rights, yet maintain order and protect life and property. Crowd members understand and expect reasonable police intervention. We believe in engaging with organizers, demonstrators, and any event participants whenever possible. We believe in establishing positive interaction with the crowd. Madison Police officers owe the community a response which balances individual civil rights with the need to maintain the personal safety of all citizens.
We define crowd management as a participatory process in which police offer information and monitor the crowd; however, the crowd is largely self-directed. We define crowd control as a situation in which regulations and restrictions are placed on the crowd and/or the movement of the crowd. The "Madison Method" of handling crowds and demonstrations is a cornerstone of our training and response to incidents. This model has proven to be very successful for our agency and has been adopted by many other agencies around the country.
The "Madison Method"
Seven Principles of Handling Crowds and Demonstrations
- We protect citizens' constitutional rights to assemble, petition the government and engage in free speech.
- We are impartial and remain neutral, regardless of the issue.
- We maintain open dialogue with citizens and the news media before, during and after demonstrations.
- We monitor demonstrations and marches to protect individual rights and ensure public safety.
- We balance the rights of demonstrators with the rights of the community at large.
- We use restraint in the use of force. We protect people first and property second.
- We, as peace officers, pursue continuous improvement of our method.
Information for this blog authored by Capt. Thomas Snyder.