Animals tend to move as a unit, like bees or ants swarming in crowds. When provoked, bees may sting a person or an animal terrorizing the hive. People are not animals, but many occasions have proven that people can also move as one unit, and not in a very nice way. That's why the police and authorities sometimes enforce crowd control means. Usually, people don't intentionally trample other people, but a rampage may be inevitable with large, excited crowds. Take a crowd of indignant foreign soccer fans booing over the winning home team, for example, and the reader may take the picture.
In most situations, crowd control usually mean some volunteers acting as living barriers to close people in by holding hands. However, other techniques can be used just in case the crowd gets out of hand. A rule of thumb is to balance freedom of speech and expression with safety.
- Monitoring may be the single most important skill to learn and should be the focus of training in crowd control. People in charge of several stations, posts, etc. may regularly report the status of the crowd.
- Observe. Another way of controlling, in fact, is to know certain details, such as what the crowd's purpose in gathering is, the weather in the current area, the time, their preferred methods toward achievement (whether through peaceful or violent means) and the place. For example if the people have grouped together suddenly, or if there were a primary and premeditated plan to group. Just how many are there in the crowd? The more people, the harder it is to control even little outbreaks, especially if there is a lot of underlying tension.
- Communicate. Some rules and regulations in crowd movement may be announced before a rally, and the people may move to a strategic location where their actions will not disturb traffic, property or other people, especially passers-by. Does the crowd have a leader of sorts? He may talk with the local officials and the authorities to discuss boundaries. When there is communication between the crowd and the authorities, an outbreak may be preventable.
- Physical Barriers. A crowd barrier may take the form of a rope barrier, retractable barrier, out crowd and water filled barriers. Some may even deploy tanks, wires, and cars among other equipment. These are largely used to keep people in or out by setting limits. One note though, these barriers may provoke outrage among the crowd, so these should be placed at the beginning or beforehand and their purposes explained.
- Back-up. In an excited and potentially dangerous crowd, the Incident Commander may have military help to secure crowd control. Numbers are important. The bigger the number, the more control the crowd control officers can obtain. Back-up officers may even be provided to provide good morale, so if a person from the crowd talks dirty or throws a ball at the crowd control, the officers won't respond through too much force. Despite being the most effective temporary control, using the military should be the last option.
Crowd control is a delicate process, as it requires skills in negotiation, in diversion and in control. If one were the Incident Commander, one may not only handle the mass but the crowd control officers themselves. Humans do not usually behave like animals. But certain situations may provoke this behavioral instinct.