The Mayan calendar abruptly ends on December 21, 2012. Many people believe this indicates the end of the world as we know it. There are a variety of theories on how the world will end. Some people speculate earth will be struck by an asteroid or another planet. Others believe a natural disaster such as a tsunami or an ice age will bring doom to earth and all its inhabitants. Yet others believe this date will bring about the Apocalypse or an alien invasion. I am not here to argue what will happen on December 21 or even if anything will happen. I do, however, believe December 21, 2012 will ultimately come and go as all past winter solstices have. On the other hand, I do think there are many believers of the end of the world who will create havoc for law enforcement agencies as well as to the general public. My question to you is how will police agencies as an organization deal with the possibility of riots on December 21, 2012?
Talk of a “dooms day” has influenced many people over the years. The fear of death is a strong instrument that has been used to take advantage of people throughout history. Thousands of earth ending predictions have come and gone during the past two-thousand years. Last year alone Christian radio host Harold Camping predicted the world would end both on May 21 and October 21, yet here we are (1). The internet is plagued with thousands of blogs and websites dedicated to the countdown to December 21. The website December212012 is dedicated to teaching and persuading its viewers to the truth of December 21. The site contains information on all the possible ways the earth will come to an end. The site also includes tactics which should be used in order to survive the devastation. The site lists a number of supplies that should be stocked up on and plans that should be in place by the time December 21 rolls around (2). It is easy to see how individuals can be swayed by sites like this along with attention given to the predicted crisis by the media. Mexico has also been using the attention as a way to draw in tourists. Millions of tourists are traveling to Southern Mexico this year to view the area where the former Mayan civilization once ruled (1).
“Remember the Y2K scare? It came and went without much of a whimper because of adequate planning and analysis of the situation” (1). It was predicted that Y2K, January 1, 2000, was going to be a destructive day because it was believed computers were going to reset to the year 1900, instead of 2000. Adequate government planning resolved most issues that could have occurred back in 2000.
An example of a learning organization was the Seattle Police Department in their preparation for Y2K. Earlier in November of 1999 the World Trade Organization protests, known as the “Battle in Seattle,” lead to nearly 20 million dollars in losses in the Seattle area. The police also dealt with riots after the 1992 acquittal of the four LAPD officers who beat Rodney King. In preparation for Y2K the city of Seattle created a plan over an eight year period following the King riots. Seattle learned from the WTO protests that they did not use enough resources or officers. On December 31, 1999 Seattle sent out 850 officers and implemented a new crowd control plan that successfully kept the public in check (3).
December 21 is less than nine months away I am sure many police organizations have specific plans in place if anarchists or the general public decide to riot and go on a crime frenzy. King County, Washington’s Sherriff’s Department spokesman John Urquhart stated prior to Y2K, “You have to plan for the worst-case scenario and be ready for that” (3). I can only hope and believe that most law enforcement agencies are relying on an organizational plan that will be used to deter any possible serious criminal act on December 21. I am confident that December 21 will be another day and hope we are all celebrating the holidays and enjoying the next chapter of our lives after graduating with CJS degrees from ISU. How do you feel law enforcement agencies will or should approach December 21, 2012?
[Reasons why people believe 2012 will be the end of the world]