Center for Policing Equity Releases the Guiding Principles for Crowd Management Policy to Assist Law Enforcement with De-Escalation Efforts

October 21 2020

Today, the Center for Policing Equity (CPE) released the Guiding Principles for Crowd Management Policy, a set of guidelines designed to help law enforcement agencies align their policies with best practices around de-escalation and use of force in crowd management for events. CPE developed the guidelines in response to the mass protests that swept across cities and towns nationwide this year, spurred by the deaths of unarmed Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement. The protests, which called for justice and advocated against police brutality, remained largely peaceful; however, some experienced vandalism, arson or violence, which only fanned the flames of tension and distrust between protesters and law enforcement.

The guidelines aim to help law enforcement agencies prioritize de-escalation, ensure that mass arrests are not used as a crowd management strategy, highlight officer accountability by ensuring that badges and identification remain visible, and provide medical assistance to those who need it at events. The guidelines further discuss how law enforcement agencies can constrain use of force, work alongside community leaders to protect the public’s First Amendment rights, and protect the health of officers, protesters, and the public.

“People have a constitutional right to make their voices heard, and they should be able to exercise their rights safely,” said Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, Co-founder and CEO of the Center for Policing Equity and a Professor of African American Studies and Psychology at Yale University. “We hope this new guidance will help everyone protect the safety and constitutional rights of demonstrators, counter-demonstrators, law enforcement officers, and the public.”

CPE’s guidelines, laid out in 27 detailed steps, were developed with two foundational obligations of law enforcement in mind: the obligation to protect the First Amendment rights of demonstrators and counter-demonstrators, and the obligation to ensure the safety of everyone who is involved in or affected by these protests, including law enforcement, medical personnel, and bystanders, by implementing safe, responsible approaches to crowd management.

“Most often, the responsibility to safeguard citizens during rallies, marches, and demonstrations falls on local policing entities. CPE’s thoughtful and inclusive document provides a necessary framework for police departments to balance safety and security with the nation’s desire to exercise its First Amendment rights,” said Dr. RaShall M. Brackney, Chief of Police of the Charlottesville Police Department in Charlottesville, Va, one of the key stakeholders who provided feedback on the guidelines. “The citizenry demands a responsive and just government, and these guiding principles help police departments deliver.”

The Guiding Principles for Crowd Management Policy are for law enforcement agencies, state and local officials, and community leaders. 

To read and learn more about the guidelines, click here.


About Center for Policing Equity: As a research and action organization, Center for Policing Equity (CPE) produces analyses identifying and reducing the causes of racial disparities in law enforcement. Using evidence-based approaches to social justice, we use data to create levers for social, cultural and policy change. Center for Policing Equity also holds a 501(c)3 status.