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Old November 23, 2008, 10:31 AM   #1
JohnH1963
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The "Group Think"

This incident has always intrigued me. There is a video somewhere on the internet about this scenario.

The police had originally responded to complaints about a loud party. The responding officers went to the residence and asked them to keep it down then left. Then there was another call where the party had escalated to fighting outside of the residence. The officers then responded to the second call and then there were additional radio calls where the officers were yelling they were getting attacked by a large crowd of Samoans with rocks and bottles.

The situation continued to escalate until there were some 50 police cars and a helicopter overhead with nearly 100 deputies dressed in riot gear.

The large party actually consisted of about 25-30 Samoan women and 10 Samoan men who were all very large. 1 of the Samoan women was a professional wrestler.

The video of the incident from a civilian showed a large crowd of officers in riot gear, but there was no one on the video throwing rocks or bottles at the officers. In fact, the party-goers exiting the house seemed rather peaceful and the officers were indeed over-reacting.

I concluded from reading the reports and watching the video that the officers were really victims of the "group think". The officers who initially responded painted a bleak unrealistic picture over the radio of a crowd of large people congregating in the street with rocks and bottles attacking the officers.

I suspect there might have been some initial antagonistic behavior with a few aggressive acts by the party-goers. However, as more officers joined the scene because of the radio calls from the initial officers, the situation kept escalating. The officers who later joined the scene were under the impression they were in a violent situation and thus came on the scene with that attitude. The party-goers were actually not engaged in non-violent acts, but the officers were under the impression they were. In fact, it was just a crowd of large women who came to watch a professional wrestler.

This scenario was from 1988, but the video and report has always intrigued me and I wonder how the situation escalated from a few officers responding to a noise complaint to 100 officers in the street with riot gear.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...53C1A96E958260
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Old November 23, 2008, 12:28 PM   #2
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So you present a story of an event of unknown specifics (date, location, police department) but you recall all the specific of the numbers of actors, manner of dress, activities, having seen video and read reports, but can't reference any of them here and instead reference a completely unrelated report from LA?

From the story you present, you then reach the conclusion that the police response was due to "group think" and the result was an unnecessary response. The fact that it was unnecessary seems to be based on the video you saw where everyone came out without conflict.

Do you think maybe they came out without conflict because they realized they were no longer superior in size and power?

So what is the point of your post? So what if officers engaged in group think in order to bring a successful conclusion to a potentially explosive situation?
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Old November 23, 2008, 12:43 PM   #3
hillbillyshooter
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I'll add to the uncertainty

I also have seen this video. It is from a police department in California. It was a small party, I believe a wedding party. The video starts late, after the bottle and rock throwing was over and when a large number of police were showing up. The party-goers, after looking at the video, tried to make the case that they were not throwing rocks or bottles because none can be seen in the street. This is probably because the video is not the best quality and shot from the other side of the street. I did see photos of some of the officers after the incident. They had cuts and bruises on their face from what I could imagine would be a rock or a bottle. I'm sorry that I could not supply any more sprecifics, I saw this on CourtTV I believe. I would think that the number of police that showed up would be a overreaction, but I'm not sure how long the fight went on for, and the riot gear is definitely understandable if there were rocks and bottles really being thrown.
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Old November 24, 2008, 09:05 AM   #4
razorburn
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Quote:
So what is the point of your post? So what if officers engaged in group think in order to bring a successful conclusion to a potentially explosive situation?
If you consider a successful conclusion to be beating and breaking the bones of compliant people at a wedding shower, having all your charges against said citizens dismissed, and then forking over $24,000,000 dollars in a lawsuit for your use of excessive force, then yes! It was a great success!
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Old November 24, 2008, 09:26 AM   #5
JohnH1963
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I brought this situation up because it seems like a good situation to study with how persons (with weapons) in groups react.

I believe there was probably some initial antagonism and resistance and maybe a bottle might have been thrown, but then it seemed to die down rather quickly. However, the police seemed to keep escalating the situation and it was all dependent on the radio calls. The radio calls made the event seem larger then life. When I listened to the calls, it made it seem like there was this angry mob of large men in the street pelting the police with bottles and rocks. However, the video and witness statements seem to go against those facts. The video showed everyone in the house. When one of the guests tried to get out of the house, the police were waiting outside and clubbed the guests as they came out.

The photos of the police wounds that I saw were honestly not all that great. I can make a few scratches on my arm with my fingernails that would seem much greater. The photos of the wounds from the guests seemed much greater as their wounds were inflicted by the clubs of the police.

There was probably 1 or 2 guys that were causing the hostilities. These few guys probably threw a bottle at the police and offered resistance. Then the initial responders made some rather aggressive calls on the police radio. Then the responding officers thought they were in for a riot and reacted as such. The entire group inside the house was then labeled as wrong-doers where it was probably only a few guys involved.
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Old November 24, 2008, 10:21 AM   #6
ZeSpectre
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I'm reminded of a classic overreaction in Harrisonburg, VA back in 2000 where, interestingly enough right after getting a bunch of riot gear, the Harrisonburg police moved in heavy handed on a situation rather than using a "diffuse and calm" plan. As a result the situation quickly spiraled into a -real- riot.

There was a LOT of fallout over that and even now the results of that action dictate police behavior (see quote below from recent article)

Quote:
Officers were trying to prevent a large incident like the one in 2000, when a crowd of about 1,000 partygoers became unruly. Fearing a major incident, about 30 police officers moved in with riot gear to clear the area using gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Twenty students were arrested during the incident, which also involved students hurling rocks and bricks at officers.
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Old November 24, 2008, 10:23 AM   #7
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I still don't see where this "group think" think is necessarily correct. So a bunch of cops acted wrongly AFTER being called out. It is wrong but happens. Does that make it group think?

Is group think always wrong?

Does group think always result in bad things?

What we have is the oh-so-bad aftermath of bad behavior. What is missing is the necessary information opined in the OP as to what led up to it, information that is necessary to justify if there was group think or not.

Was Rodney King group think as well?
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Old November 24, 2008, 12:26 PM   #8
JohnH1963
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The term "group think" is defined in the following link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

"Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group.[1] During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance."


In certain instances groupthink can be helpful. but in others it can be harmful.

In this situation, the officers came up on the house as a group thinking that there was a riot in effect. No one questioned what was exactly going on, but instead, reacted to the situation as they thought it was happening according to the radio calls.

There were some other solutions to this situation which would have not resulted in injury such as the old police line and bullhorn. Stand back from the house and announce over the bullhorn for the party goers to come out one at a time. In any event, the officers on the scene could have stood back and questioned what was going on. There was clearly time to think. The partygoers obviously were not armed with rifles or pistols just rocks and bottles (according to the radio calls). Standing back from the situation and thinking before charging in would have been a better solution.

I dont blame the officers, but leadership and management of the situation. A police supervisor should have devised a better strategy on the scene to handle the situation more appropriately.

In fact, I never blame the officers. The supervisors and managers are always the ones to blame. The officers are just following orders, the supervisors are the ones giving them The supervisors also provide the training and involve themselves in the hiring process. Its sure tough to be in management anywhere nowadays
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Old November 24, 2008, 06:02 PM   #9
roach4047
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I'm not sure why anybody would point blame toward the officers for any wrong doing here. It seems to me that they were simply preparing for a worse case scenario. All that had to happen was that they (the officers) show up and hang out for a bit to make sure the situation was under control and then be on their way. Obviously something about the event held their attention at least to the point that a decision was made to further monitor the situation. I'm sure the officers would have rather been doing a number of other things other than suiting up for a riot. I don't believe that the group of officers simply began beating people down with their clubs for no good reason. Simply put any body that's stupid enough and decides to antagonize a group of officers dressed in full riot gear was asking for nothing good to come of the situation to begin with. A group of LEO's in Riot gear should be respected and obeyed, not antagonized and challanged..... That's just begging for all sorts of trouble. If I see a group of police in full Riot gear my good senses tell me to avoid what ever the situation is that they're prepared/preparing for.

To the OP...So far as your question as to how could the situation have escalated into a situation such as it did. You answered that in the early part of your statement.

"they were getting attacked by a large crowd of Samoans with rocks and bottles."

Seems pretty cut and dry to me. Rocks and bottles being thrown @ the police sounds like the making of a riot to me. If the large crowd would have been limited to simply 1 person behaving in such a manner I could easily imagine the responding officers physically aprehending the perp by means of an appropriate use of force, likely tasering them and possibly even guns being drawn with no questions asked. It's clear who was in the wrong in this matter. The officers should be commended for maintaining the peace. Were they "Victims of Group Think as you say? No they were making good use of their resources. Or maybe a better idea would have been to simply allow the raging crowd to carry on with their "Party" and clean up the mess after the party goers were done with their "Party fighting."

Roach

Last edited by roach4047; November 24, 2008 at 06:25 PM.
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