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NIJ Civil Disturbance Unit Standards: The Importance of Standards and Testing

Mark Greene, Physical Scientist, National Institute of Justice; Alan Hanson, Captain, Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department

When a law enforcement agency responds to a civil disturbance, it is critical that the equipment they rely on is fit for duty. That is where NIJ’s standards and testing program can help. In this video, Mark Greene, Physical Scientist, National Institute of Justice, and Alan Hanson, Captain, Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department, discuss the importance of standards and testing and why it is important to develop CDU standards for agencies across the country.

MARK GREENE: One of the things we’ve been doing to support civil disturbance units in the United States is to establish, to help establish U.S. law enforcement standards for the personal protective equipment. We established a special technical committee in November of 2017 comprised of about 25 law enforcement agencies and other technical experts such as folks from laboratories and other certification bodies. These standards would address personal protective equipment such as pads, helmets, shields, boots, coveralls. The sort of ensemble that law enforcement wear when they’re responding to civil disorder situations.

ALAN HANSON: So, we came involved with Dr. Greene and NIJ while we were looking to improve tactics, training, and equipment standards in the U.S. So, after we began that discussion, we were able to then go on a special research trip over to London and visit the Metropolitan Police Service in London, visit the Bundespolizei in Germany, and also visit the Bavarian State police down in Dachau. And what we came to understand is that they do things at countrywide. They establish standards for not only equipment but also tactics and training. So it was a great opportunity for us to go and see how all of those interrelate and how we can better improve the practice in the United States.

MARK GREENE: It’s important to have standards so that equipment essentially is fit for duty. So that you have essentially all equipment is tested to minimum performance requirements that’s established by U.S. law enforcement officers who do this kind of work on a day-by-day basis. The equipment is tested at laboratories which are accredited to do those sorts of tests so that when law enforcement officers at the end of the day have to choose equipment to buy and equipment to wear and train with and to use in operations, that they can be confident that that equipment will perform as they expect.

ALAN HANSON: So, standards are very important for tactics and training as well. There are so many different law enforcement agencies in the U.S. that the likelihood that we’re going to need mutual aid to handle a large-scale event is very great. And so the better we are able to utilize the same tactics and training and standardize that across the U.S., the more success we’re going to have in these types of situations.

Date Created: July 31, 2019