Practicing the “Madison Method” in Ferguson

Lt. Jerry Lohr, St Louis County Police
Lt. Jerry Lohr, St Louis County Police

In Ferguson, Officer Defuses Eruptions as Crowds Grow Tense

Here’s another command officer who understands “The Madison Method” and effectively uses it.

 

From The New York Times, November 27, 2014.

“FERGUSON, Mo. — Late Wednesday, two nights after rioting left blocks of this suburban city in smoldering ruin, a small but angry crowd assembled at the police station on South Florissant Road.

“On previous nights, protesters hurled D batteries, bottles of urine and rocks at the police officers and National Guard troops who stood stern-faced behind steel barricades and concrete barriers.

But around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, an unlikely scene unfolded off to the side.

“A teenage protester whose face had been hidden behind a ski mask lowered his headgear, approached a police commander and gave him a hug.

“’Good to see you, man,’ the commander, Lt. Jerry Lohr of the St. Louis County Police, said to the teenager, Joshua Williams. ‘How’ve you been? How’s your mom doing? I saw her out here earlier.’

“Lieutenant Lohr, 41, had a scratch on his left eyelid from a scuffle that broke out during an arrest the previous night and a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth. He wore no riot gear — just a standard-issue brown uniform — and held not a baton in his hand but his knit cap.

“’We going to have a good night?’ he asked Mr. Williams.

“’Yeah,’ Mr. Williams, 19, said…

“Before, during and after that first night of violence, few law enforcement officials have done more on the ground to ease the volatility of protesters than Lieutenant Lohr, who is white. And few of his white colleagues have been able to connect with the largely black crowds better than he has.

“After embracing the lieutenant, Mr. Williams was back at the barricades, his mask again covering his face. ‘We were having a conversation one day out here, and he seemed like a pretty decent guy, so I grew to like him,’ said Mr. Williams, who is black and lives in Ferguson. ‘He’s the only one I feel comfortable being around. The rest of them — no, I don’t.’

“Lieutenant Lohr, a Nashville-born former Texan and father of three with an Army-style buzz cut, is one of the commanders overseeing security at the Ferguson police station. He never wears riot gear, even when he wades into a group of protesters to answer questions, resolve disputes or listen to a stream of insults. Protesters at the gates ask for him by name, so they can make complaints, for example, about the use of tear gas or of officers being too aggressive in arresting a woman….”

 

To read the full article written by Manny Fernandez and Brent McDonald, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about The Madison Method of crowd control CLICK HERE.

P.S. After publication of this post, I received the following from Lt. Lohr:

“I wish I could say that I had done some research and prepared for handling crowds, but that would not be true.  I was quite surprised at how aligned my approach to the crowd was with your 7 steps.  Intuitively, the methods that I tried to use just seemed like the “right thing” to do.  I have only been in law enforcement for 13 years and obviously, this event was a first for me (and our department).  And it goes without saying that it has been (and will be for some time) a trying and stressful situation in many ways. I plan on reading your book and hopefully will be able to continue to work toward resolving some of this conflict.”
Thanks.