Interview with John Nichols

Can you tell me again, just briefly about, just briefly about the Kercheval incident and what worked in that case but didn't seem to be working?


Well, briefly the Kercheval area, geographically, was different than the 12th Street area. The Kercheval area was an area primarily of single residence homes. It was spread over a large, a larger area, a larger geographical area. The time was right, the department was at full strength. We had ample manpower. We had both of our tactical units available. And almost immediately before I left home I committed upwards of 200 policemen in the area with one, with one order. I think the difference being that control of any kind of an unusual disorder depends upon getting a maximum amount of people into the area with, with a show of force. Ah, in the '67 disorder we did not have that. We played catch up. It's difficult to mobilize on Sunday morning for police, many police were out with their families. Many of them got up at 4 o'clock in the morning and went fishing and a lot of people were unaware that there was any difficulty because they were out in the parks and they come home to find calls on their, on their answering machines or their neighbors saying, "My god, there's a big riot going on." And I think the difference being that, in the one area of control, was much larger, ah, the mobilization of the people who could be problems was much slower, the police mobilization was much, much faster in that incident, and the, ah, the citizens who, assisted us were present and were out and were ringing doorbells and moving in the crowds and doing what they could do to diffuse the instant. And I think those are the things that made the difference.