Commentary: “Impossibility” and Realpolitik in Public Order: A Commander's Perspective

Published date01 March 2015
Date01 March 2015
“Impossibility” and Realpolitik in Public Order: A Commander’s Perspective 275
Chief Inspector Paula Hennighan-
Finlay has experienced protests, disorder,
and riots both as a frontline police off‌i cer
and as a commander spanning 22 years
service. The dissertation for her master of
science (merit) concentrated on public order
policing at football events.
Paula Hennighan-Finlay
United Kingdom
ere is much food for thought in Kevin Morrell and
Graeme Currie’s article “Impossible Jobs or Impossible
Tasks? Client Volatility and Frontline Policing Practice
in Urban Riots.” In the space available, I will ref‌l ect
on two points on the spectrum in this commentary—
the events of August 2011 and the policing of football
(soccer)—and conclude with more general thoughts
on impossibility.
In August 2011, I witnessed the “riots” from
Hampshire Constabulary’s Force Control Room as
critical incident commander—the most senior person
on duty. Watching the events unfold, colleagues and
I waited for “copycatting” in our communities. We
were fortunate to be able to improvise and imple-
ment a comparatively sophisticated media response
strategy, overseen by one very capable colleague who
took control of our Twitter and Facebook feeds and
monitored social media.  is enhanced our response,
although the major dif‌f‌i culty was indeed a volatile,
ballooning “client base.” Many responsible were not
previously known to us and instead seemed swept up
in events.  ey were cloaked in anonymity, empow-
ered by contemporary technology, and emboldened by
an unprecedented opportunity to loot stores (seen as
a victimless crime) apparently without consequence.
“Impossibility” and Realpolitik in Public Order:
A Commander’s Perspective
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 75, Iss. 2, pp. 275–276. © 2015 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12329.

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