People use social media to announce and event that draws people from many locations to participate in some activity. In the past they were often used to tell people there was going to be a party at a particular location and sometimes hundreds of people would show up, uninvited and unplanned for, causing major problems. Later this same social media was used to organize silly events that were generally harmless. People coordinated visiting a business or other public place and everyone would dance or sing or simply stand still for a few minutes, then resume normal activities. If crowds could be gathered to do something silly in public they could be gathered either as a cover for crime or terrorist or gathered specifically to perform crime or terrorism.
There are several ways to intervene in this type of incident. Your school resource officers should be aware of the sites that kids are using to relay information. They should be monitoring those for illegal activity, subject to department policy. Your teenage informants should be contacted, particularly on the weekends to gather intelligence for flash mob violence. Dispatchers should monitor the agency Twitter accounts and other web sources for potential flash mob violence.
Some of these groups have been as few as four people and as many as thousands. Officers need to have their riot gear; helmets, riot batons, gas masks in their gear bags at all times. Some of these mobs have even shot and murdered people, so officers must be prepared for gatherings, rioting and even shootings. Flash mobs, a new problem for 21st Century law enforcement; that’s what the SGT Says.