Derrick Parks: Law enforcement needs to learn the lessons of Charlottesville

As the incidents in Charlottesville recently showed us, our country is dealing with more and more racial divide and as a result law enforcement must appropriately do their job and protect individuals when there are public demonstrations.

charlottesvilleCharlottesville was one example of what happens when various offices and agencies don’t work together. You have the mayor, city council, police chief and even the governor’s office all saying more could have been done but it’s not their fault. Municipalities must be prepared for future public demonstrations because these events will continue occurring and law enforcement and the government officials must be better prepared and learn from the lessons of Charlottesville.

Also more needs to be done between the police and the communities they serve. Whether its Charlottesville or Baltimore or Charleston or Ferguson, there is a dire need to have community re-engagement between local citizens and officials nationwide. Communities and its citizens need to work together and not against one another.

In Charlottesville, the Alt-right and white nationalist rally goers and the counter protesters agreed on one point; the police  did not do enough to prevent the violence as the crowds grew and tensions flared. Critics say both Charlottesville Police and Virginia State Police stood on the sidelines as skirmishes erupted between white nationalists and members of Antifa, a broad movement of left-leaning groups. The two groups confronted each other with shields and pepper spray.

It wasn’t until police declared the rally an “unlawful assembly” and Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency that police ordered the gathering to break up and scattered the crowds throughout the city.

The police did not break up the crowds and as a result tensions escalated from opposing voices and protesters. By being outnumbered, ill-prepared and inexperienced what occurred in Charlottesville can occur anywhere unless law enforcement is better prepared for these kinds of demonstrations and events in the future.

It’s true that bigger cities like New York or Washington DC have more experience in these kind of matters and may have handled things differently. That being said, every municipality and city and town around the country needs to learn from what occurred in Charlottesville and ask themselves some tough questions on whether they are prepared and if not what do they need to do to make sure  they are.

Planning is one thing but when you’re in the eye of the storm law enforcement needs to discourage confrontation and not to anything hoping that eventually both sides disperse, because then you’re asking for trouble.

History teaches us to learn from our mistakes. Let’s hope that other cities in America took note of what occurred in Charlottesville so that we are better prepared when future protests and demonstration occur among multiple groups. Law enforcement must do everything they can to protect the public and keep us safe.

Derrick Parks is the CEO of Metropolitan Protective Services Inc.

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