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DC police review strategy during inauguration, protests, march

Protesters move along Constitution Avenue at the Women's March on Washington during the first full day of Donald Trump's presidency, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

WASHINGTON — As the dust settles from last week’s inaugural activities D.C. police are reviewing their strategy and tactics for maintaining order.

Six officers were hurt and some 230 people were arrested. Property was destroyed, fires set and rocks and other heavy objects were hurled at police.

D.C. interim Police Chief Peter Newsham is pleased with the way officers responded to rioting in the downtown area.

“They only used forced when necessary to control aggressive crowds. They allowed for peaceful demonstrations throughout the city,” Newsham said.

Some protesters have complained that police corralled and arrested them even though they were not taking part in any rioting.

“I did not have any concerns that I have seen to this point with the way the rioters were handled,” Newsham said, “I always welcome criticism of the police because it makes us better,” he said.

Shopkeepers and property owners will be sizing up damage in the days ahead at downtown businesses targeted in Friday’s riots.

“We’re working the damage assessments now throughout the city, and I’m sure we’ll be doing that throughout the week,” said Chris Geldart, director of D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management, who offered praise for the actions of D.C. police.

“I think that the swift response of the Metropolitan Police Department kept this from being more of what it was,” Geldart said.

Newsham and Geldart said there will be after-action reviews of all the security procedures that were put in place, including the strategies and tactics employed by police. Geldart said some reviews are already underway at his agency.

Chief Newsham praised officers throughout the city for their efforts managing large crowds and the conflict on Friday, in addition to Saturday’s massive and peaceful Women’s March. And while the cleanup continues from a week of inaugural activities, the city is ready for the next big group.

“We have a right-to-life march coming up this Friday … this is another demonstration. It will be large but it will be peaceful,” Newsham said about Friday’s scheduled anti-abortion “March for Life,” marking the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.


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