By Jake Dima
Two police union executives said that in order to curb rioting, looting and mass violence, officers must be proactive, can’t hesitate to make arrests and must employ overwhelming force or the unrest will fester.
Vice president emeritus of the International Union of Police Associations Dennis Slocumb and vice president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association Vincent Vallelong told the Daily Caller News Foundation in interviews that riots are out of hand and require aggressive countermeasures.
The pair advocated for the use of non-lethal munitions, proactive policing strategies and the utilization of physical force within legal means.
Violent demonstrations have continued in the U.S. since the death of George Floyd, who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes, video showed. Unrest has seen a resurgence following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“I don’t even know if you could call them rioters anymore,” Vallelong told the DCNF during a phone call. “There has to be some sort of new terminology that they come up with for these people. It’s pretty much terrorism at this point. It is domestic terrorism.”
“These people when they are caught need to be charged and there has to be a heavy outcome when it comes to their sentencing,” Vallelong continued. “If they go away for 2 years, or they go away for 3 years, I could care less. They could go away for 10 years and if 5 years down the line, they say it was too much, well they shouldn’t have put themselves in that situation.
Slocumb said “If you give up a foot of sidewalk, it will take four guys to get that foot back.”
“Criminal behavior, throwing rocks, throwing bottles of frozen water, breaking windows, lighting fires, setting off commercial fireworks, trying to blind people with lasers — you see it, unfortunately, every night on the news,” he continued. “And that’s not a protest, that’s a riot and it has to be dealt with immediately and without a lot of pandering.”
Vallelong, whose union is largely composed of officers with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), said riots have slowed down in his area of operation. He attributed the success to law enforcement taking proactive steps to forcefully disband the NYC “Occupy City Hall” encampment, which saw protesters held up in a city park in mid-July, according to NY1.
“It has been better in New York,” Vallelong said. “They went in at 4am when people were sleeping and taking a little nap — when they were done singing and chanting and throwing Molotov cocktails and burning things down and writing graffiti on the walls, and they were allowed to lock them up.”
“They pushed through and were allowed to put their hands on them and they locked them up. They cleared it out and they did not give them any ground to make their base.”
RIP: NYPD has dismantled “Occupy City Hall” in an overnight raid ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/seNM046tTM
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) July 22, 2020
The encampment saw seven arrests and included around 50 people, according to NY1, but Vallelong insisted it sent a message that violent disturbances would not be tolerated in the city. The 30-year police veteran also said that the tactics used in NYC could be applied to other locations.
He noted a recent encampment within the city of Seattle, where improvised weapons were located. Officers found knives, spikes, shields and munitions within tents inside a public park, according to the department’s blotter.
“That camp that we discussed that was out in Seattle should have been run down and ripped up,” Vallelong said.
Slocumb was a former deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and was present for the Los Angeles riots of 1992. The unrest resulted after a white police officer was acquitted on several charges for the beating of a black motorist, and the violence roiled the city, resulting in arson, gunfire and looting, according to Britannica.
The former law enforcement officer brought up his time during the hysteria to solidify his statements about the importance of overwhelming force.
“They turned loose probably 1,000 deputy sheriffs at least, and assigned us sectors to go in and do what we needed to do to arrest people that were trying to break windows and loot and those kinds of things, and it was just overwhelming force.”
The police veteran also added that the riots were largely quelled without basic technology such as Tasers, as they were not in use at the time. Modern tech would make disbanding violent demonstrations more efficient, according to Slocumb.
“They need to deploy those things that they have available with them to disperse that crowd,” he said. “Whether it’s oleoresin capsicum spray [OC spray] or tear gas or just physical force. They have to disperse the crowd and if the crowd moves ten feet, then they have to move ten feet forward.”
Both Slocumb and Vallelong recall the debilitating effects of the non-lethal munitions when they were exposed to them during their time in law enforcement.
“I mean have you ever cut up a jalapeño and then rubbed your eye? Well, multiply that by a hundred. It’s incredibly uncomfortable,” Slocumb said.
Vallelong said, “It’s uncomfortable. “If you have any respiratory issues for one, it really messes up the way you can see something or smell — shortness of breath. It’s not comfortable.”
The pair spoke to the effectiveness of non-lethal munitions and also chastised a recent decision from Democratic Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler that banned the use of tear gas on rioters in the city.
Portland has largely been considered the riot hotbed of the U.S. with over 100 straight days of violent demonstrations.
“I think that the mayor there is an abject failure,” Slocumb said. “It’s almost sadly humorous. I don’t know why he would remove tools from officers while at the same time demanding them to keep the city safe.”
Vallelong said, “Get rid of the governor. Get rid of the mayor. Both of them are a cancer for the state [Oregon]. And they are making the state a cancer to society.”
To both of the union bosses, the riots are out of hand.
“Arrest them,” Slocumb said. “You need to use whatever force is necessary to overcome their resistance.”
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