Publications & Resources

Counterinsurgency Tactics: A Tool For Domestic Policing

By Dominic J. Traina

Since 2014, civil unrest has taken place in Ferguson, Berkeley, Cleveland, New York and most recently in Baltimore. These events have been triggered by incidents that have involved local law enforcement officers and the deaths of members of the local community.

These cities along with others in the United States are plagued with similar social issues, such as income inequality, that ferment social and other economic woes that fuel high crime rates and unemployment. These issues fester in many urban areas throughout the United States. The unemployment rate in Ferguson, Missouri for example is at 26% for African-Americans. Understandably, cities throughout the U.S. should be concerned as civil unrest appears to be on the rise. Saint Augustine once noted in an essay about the elements of peace and war that, "The purpose of all wars is peace." Hopefully, lessons have been learned from the recent events of civil unrest and opportunities for a greater understanding of these complex issues will be addressed.

Counterinsurgency (COIN) tactics and strategies learned over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan could be considered useful by many of our local and state law enforcement officials. Future unrest could be thwarted by reviewing some of these lessons in counterinsurgency and incorporating some of the tactics into the widely used community policing that is already a huge part of the policing strategy in many major cities. Through enhanced COIN training, at the police recruit level and through additional advanced training for seasoned officers some civil unrest might be diffused. A question could be posed is; what type of nexus could be made between counterinsurgency tactics and community policing in an effort to stabilize urban disorder and improve relationships with local law enforcement?

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