More than 6,500 Chicago police officers have been trained in anticipation of the thousands of demonstrators, some of whom are expected to incite violence, that are expected in Chicago in May for the NATO/G8 summits.
But just how well Chicago police officers are being trained is a question being raised by some.
The great majority of officers have undergone an eight hour training session, which according to those who participated, consisted of watching a film for half the time and baton practice for the remainder.
Officers said they are given a small 13-page pocket pamphlet with stick figures that outline various formations. It’s called Chicago Police Crowd Control Formations.
Mike Shields, the head of the local Fraternal Order of Police, remembered his thoughts when officers brought him the pamphlet after their training concluded.
"It was comical but it is not something that is 2012 ready," Shields said. "It was basically stick figures of different configurations," he said, “such as forming a wedge or assembling in different stances during a demonstration period."
Chief Debra Kirby is in charge of planning for the dual summits for CPD and said the pamphlet is simply a pocket guide for police.
"This is not a training guide," she said. "In terms of what types of response, what types of needs, no single piece of paper is going to provide a Chicago police officer that information."
Chicago police have had plenty of recent experiences with protesters, including a 2002 Trans-Atlantic business summit and a 2003 anti-war demonstration.
But many expect the summits this May, given videos already posted on the Internet, will turn violent. And that is what is alarming some police. The majority of officers, thus far, have spent one day in training and some say it is basic at best.
"From what we are gathering from the officers that have gone through this program, it’s the eight-hour baton training and that’s it," said Shields.
At least 60 Chicago police officers have undergone intensive FEMA drills in Alabama, and they in turn are helping train several hundred frontline CPD officers over the course of three days.
"Clearly not every officer is getting the three-day training. It becomes a question of resources and application of resources,” said Kirby, adding that additional training is planned for all officers.
What worries police is not just the prospect of violence, but what happens after the demonstrations are over, if there is violence that requires police intervention.
"These rioters make a living on suing police officers every city that they go to,” he said. "When you are on the frontline you have to worry about your own assets," Shields said.
Will there be violence? Past NATO and G8 and G20 summits have run the gamut from unruly to truly violent.
"We anticipate some level of civil disobedience, whether or not that engages in violence we will be ready for it," Kirby declared.
But just how ready is what some police officers are asking?
"What do you do when someone throws a Molotov cocktail, your way? Our officers aren’t being taught that," said Shields.
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