Anne Arundel County learning from unrest in Ferguson

It will cause your eyes nose and throat to burn, making you cough choke and unable to see. There isn’t much research into the long-term health effects of tear gas, but it used to control crowds – including protestors in Ferguson.

It’s not just tear gas. We’ve seen riot great and military grade equipment used on people protesting the death of Michael Brown.

The Missouri National Guard is now withdrawing from the city, and while the tactics used by law enforcement there are questioned, other police departments are working to learn from the unrest.

Anne Arundel County Police Department Chief Kevin Davis says it’s easier said than done. Davis isn’t just watching, he’s studying. Davis knows there is no substitute for being prepared.

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“We will probably be talking about Ferguson two or three years from now, hopefully in academic settings and classroom settings in law enforcement,” Chief Davis said. “Just like Rodney King years ago, we will learn. Law enforcement will get better from Ferguson, and I think that conversation is well on its way.”

Anne Arundel County hasn’t had large unrest like Ferguson, but Davis has plenty of experience with civil disorder. He was involved in several student riots in Prince George’s County.

“We’re prepared in Anne Arundel County,” Chief Davis said. “We possess the assets. We have the training to respond to a civil disturbance in Anne Arundel County.”

Anne Arundel County has access to military style weapons and equipment. Davis says those types of assets should be used as a last resort.

“The deployment of those types of heavy assets, while that always has to be a tool in your toolbox, it’s a last resort. It’s done in a measured and thoughtful way,” he said. “Once you make that decision, you can’t take it back. Now you are in a fight.”

When confrontations happen, there is little doubt in this digital age someone will capture it on video.

“We don’t get do overs. We’re held accountable for everything we say and everything we do. Cell phones and cameras are everywhere, so the margin of error for law enforcement in the 21st Century is very, very small,” Davis said.

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