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How Riot Control Works


Riot-control Technology
Typical crowd-control protective gear
Typical crowd-control protective gear
Photo courtesy Department of Defense

When a crowd-control unit gets ready for action, the first thing it does is put on protective gear. The full outfit is known as hard tac and consists of:

  • Helmet with face shield
  • Body armor
  • Large body shield

Both the body shield and face shield are made of Lexan®. Lexan® can be bullet-proof if it is thick enough, but for this application, it isn't meant to stop bullets -- it only protects against thrown objects and shrapnel from incendiary devices.

Batons
Batons
Photo courtesy Selpro Limited

The most basic offensive weapon a riot-control officer has is a baton. These are usually between 24 and 42 inches (60-107 cm) long and are made of any hardwood. Most crowd-control units use these instead of rifles because the mere presence of rifles tends to escalate any kind of disturbance, and if the crowd manages to wrest a rifle away from an officer, the results could be tragic.

Police have a variety of non-lethal rounds they can fire at crowds, although these are generally considered to be "less-lethal" rounds because anything fired from a gun has the potential to be deadly. However, they are trained to use these weapons in ways that minimize the risk of death or serious injury.

These rounds are fired from a 40-mm gun -- either a single-shot launcher or a multi-launcher that can have five or six rounds loaded at once. The guns are similar to military grenade launchers.

40-mm single-launcher, used instead of the multi-launcher when greater precision is needed
40-mm single-launcher, used instead of the multi-launcher when greater precision is needed
Photo courtesy Cheektowaga Police Department Photographer: Edward Grabianowski
40-mm multi-launcher
40-mm multi-launcher
Photo courtesy Cheektowaga Police Department Photographer: Edward Grabianowski
Chamber of 40-mm multi-launcher
Chamber of 40-mm multi-launcher
Photo courtesy Cheektowaga Police Department Photographer: Edward Grabianowski

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