Thursday, February 23, 2012

Super cop goes to Bahrain

So what do you do if you're an authoritarian regime facing open revolt but your security forces are drawing condemnation for their use of brute force against demonstrators?

If you're the Bahraini government you call up John Timoney, the former chief of police in Philadelphia and Miami, to whip your security forces into shape. You know the American press will eat it up and treat your new hire with kid gloves. You're also pretty certain that the decision will buy you some time as you try to put an end to the dissent in the streets.

It would probably be best to tout the manner in which he handled large scale riots or demonstrations, such as in New York's Tompkin's Square in 1988 or in Philadelphia at the Republican National Convention in 2000. The man knows how to control a large crowd.

When Timoney took on the role of Miami's police chief in December 2002, his methods for dealing with mass demonstrations had evolved to include the use of pepper spray, rubber bullets, bean bag rounds, Tasers, electrified shields and batons. The tactics were on full display during the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit protest. 
The documentary The Miami Model depicts several scenes in which police in riot gear are seen shooting non-violent demonstrators with "less-lethal" rounds, hitting protesters with fists and batons and using Tasers extensively. The film-makers also interviewed several anonymous local residents who say the police encouraged them to rob legal observers and people involved in the protests.

Of course his methods of crowd control include the liberal use of police batons, fists, tear gas and tasers. I must admit that it is better than live ammunition - but it still involves the use of force to quell dissent.

But the government of Bahrain isn't concerned with the aspirations of its people. And neither is our government. All the time our representatives pompously condemn governments around the world for repressing their people, they turn a blind eye if the transgressor happens to be buddy-buddy with Uncle Sam.

Here is The Miami Model which documents the tactics used by the Miami police during the 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas summit meeting. The documentary is 91 minutes long.

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