Police Riot Control Training

Updated April 17, 2017

The goal of police riot control training is to confront and disperse angry and unruly crowds, either to prevent or reduce the chance of destruction and violence. The training involves imaginary demonstrations, usually consisting of ordinary citizens trained to unnerve the officers without resorting to actual violence. All kinds of scenarios are thrown at the police trainees. The goal is to produce a simulated experience in the use of riot control tactics. In addition, the training also helps to create poise and emotional control within police riot control trainees.

Protective Gear

In order to engage an out-of-control crowd of demonstrators, police trainees must wear a suit of protective gear. This gear consist of a riot helmet, face visors, body armour, vest, neck protection, gas mask, knee pads and Plexiglas riot shields. In the process of training, riot police must learn how to absorb the shock of rocks, bodies, and homemade smoke bombs being tossed at them. In an event of an actual riot, this riot armour will keep the trainees from being seriously hurt.

Method of Approach

Riot police training entails many tactics, including the simulated use of tear gas, pepper spray, plastic bullets, electric TASERs, batons, barricades, water canons, armoured vehicles, police dogs and police-mounted horses. The choice of tactics depends on the type of threat the crowd presents. For example, if the crowd is simply demonstrating or quietly protesting with signs and posters, then all riot police need to do is to maintain their ground. But if a demonstrations begin escalating out of control, riot police must be capable of stepping forward and dispersing the crowd with batons, tear gas, pepper spray or TASERs. This initial response usually disperses the crowd. However, if the crowd is overly aggressive, riot police trainees may have to resort to more effective control strategies such as water canons, police dogs, mounted horses or armoured vehicles.


Usually police riot training consists of nine to ten law enforcement officers. These officers form a line or a square. The formation consists of a command team and an arrest team operating in or near the middle. To disperse a crowd, officers in the front push forward into the crowd, opening up space for the arrest team to attack and arrest unruly individuals. Training with these simulated crowds provides the experience needed to successfully handle the real event.


The importance of riot control police training cannot be overstated. When the threat of home-based terror is on the rise, and when the possibility of natural disaster wracking havoc on nations is very real, riot police must be ready to respond ASAP to angry mobs and rioters spilling out into the streets.

A Humane Way

Police riot training is the humane way of confronting civil disobedience. The training prepares policemen for dispersing and managing large crowds without resorting to massive bloodshed. Unfortunately, in the past, many countries have persecuted, or even killed, those citizens who have staged uprisings against the government. These infamous events will always present the case for effective riot control training.

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About the Author

Steve Glenn is a member of the Loft Writing Center in Minneapolis and has been writing professionally for over six years. He has written various newsletters and has published articles in the "Milwaukee Community Journal." Glenn holds a Bachelor of Science degree in English and education from Metro State University in St. Paul.