REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

From city to city, law enforcement guidelines on crowd control and the use of force and firearms vary widely.

In the days following 18-year-old Michael Brown's death at the hands of officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, last August, local police forces became the focus of many conversations around the country.

Peaceful protesters in Ferguson found themselves confronted by militarized cops that looked better armed for a war than a civil demonstration. That led to questions about how police forces around the country dress, what they carry, and what they drive when the people they've been hired to protect organize to express a dissenting voice.

From Mexico City to Kuala Lumpur, police forces are trained and armed for the possibility that lethal force ever becomes necessary. Marko Djurica for Reuters' Wider Lens blog recently compiled portraits of cops from around the world showing not only how they dress, but describing each force's rules of engagement:

Italian Carabinieri pose in front of St. Peter's Basilica as a Carabinieri helicopter flies overhead, in Rome on November 12, 2014. In Italy, police and the paramilitary Carabinieri follow the same guidelines, which say that the use of weapons is allowed only in the line of duty, when it is an "unavoidable necessity to overcome resistance, stop violence, or prevent a [serious] crime," and that the response must be proportionate to the situation. (REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)
Afghan policeman Zabiullah, 24, poses for photo in Kabul on October 2, 2014. In Afghanistan, "the police can use weapons or explosives against a group of people only if they it has ... disturbed security by means of arms, and if the use of other means of force ... has proved ineffective." Afghan police are required to give no fewer than six warnings—three verbal and three warning shots—before using force in this situation. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani)
A Mumbai police constable poses as he stands guard next to an armored vehicle outside the police commissioner's office in Mumbai on October 1, 2014. In India, the Rapid Action Force (RAF) are called on for violent disorder that the police are unable to contain. They require an on-the-spot magistrate's consent and must issue a warning before each escalation of the use of force, from verbal warning to water cannon and tear gas, then to rubber bullets or baton rounds, and then to firearms. (REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui)
Serbian police officers of the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit pose for a picture in their base outside Belgrade on October 8, 2014. In Bosnia, police are permitted to use force ranging from batons to chemical irritants, water cannons, "binding agents, special firearms and explosive devices," following a warning, but only when other methods of control have proved ineffective, and not against the young, old, or disabled unless they use firearms. The method must be "proportional to the resistance or violence coming from the person on whom the force is used." (REUTERS/Marko Djurica)
Police constables Ben Sinclair and Karen Spencer pose for a photograph wearing their Metropolitan Police beat uniforms, in London on October 9, 2014. In Britain, "lethal or potentially lethal force should only be used when absolutely necessary in self-defense, or in the defense of others against the threat of death or serious injury." (REUTERS/Paul Hackett)
Austrian police officers pose in various uniforms in front of a water cannon at their headquarters in Vienna on October 8, 2014. In Austria, the use of lethal force is permitted to tackle rioting or to detain a dangerous suspect, but only when less dangerous methods "appear inappropriate or have proved to be ineffective," and with the aim of avoiding serious injury where possible. The use must be proportionate, and be preceded by a warning. (REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger)
Members of Belgium's special forces pose for pictures at their headquarters in central Brussels on November 24, 2014. Human rights monitors say police in Belgium are legally entitled to use proportionate force, after a warning, where there is no other means to achieve a legitimate objective. They say police may use firearms in self-defense, to confront armed perpetrators, or in defense of persons or key facilities, but never for crowd control. (REUTERS/Yves Herman)
Venezuela's national police officers Bello (R) and Bogado pose for a picture with their riot equipment, next to a mannequin in uniform during a government Christmas fair in Caracas on November 13, 2014. In Venezuela, no firearms are to be carried or used for control of peaceful demonstrations. When there is a threat to order, and other methods of conflict resolution have failed, police are instructed to warn crowds or demonstrators that there will be a "progressive, differentiated use of force." Measures are to be taken to avoid harming children, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups, and no force is to be used on those who avoid violence or are withdrawing from the scene. (REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)
Members of the Task Force for Mexico City pose for a photograph at their base in Mexico City on October 15, 2014. In Mexico, "when violent action by a crowd cannot be deterred, a scale of force will be applied progressively consisting of verbal persuasion or deterrence, reduced physical movements, use of non-lethal incapacitating weapons, and use of firearms or lethal force." (REUTERS/Claudia Daut)
Malaysia's public order police, the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU), pose for photographs wearing riot control equipment at their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on November 20, 2014. In Malaysia, the FRU are only permitted to use firearms in cases where the protesters are using firearms. Firearms have not been used in the 59 years since the FRU was formed. (REUTERS/Olivia Harris)
A member of Philippine National Police poses for a picture with a patrol Segway motorcycle in front of a police station in Manila on September 15, 2014. In the Philippines, the use of extreme force against a suspect is allowed only if the police officer's life or that of a victim is in imminent danger. (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: bicyclists in Paris during a transit strike in December.

    Paris Mayor: It's Time for a '15-Minute City'

    In her re-election campaign, Mayor Anne Hidalgo says that every Paris resident should be able to meet their essential needs within a short walk or bike ride.

  2. photo: a wallet full of Yen bills.

    Japan’s Lost-and-Found System Is Insanely Good

    If you misplace your phone or wallet in Tokyo, chances are very good that you’ll get it back. Here’s why.

  3. Equity

    The Presidential Candidates that Mayors Support

    Big-city mayors favor Mike Bloomberg after his late entry into the race, while leaders in smaller cities have lined up behind Pete Buttigieg.

  4. Equity

    What Mike Bloomberg Got Wrong About Redlining and the Financial Crisis

    Comments about New Deal-era housing discrimination made by presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg echo a familiar narrative about minority homeowners.

  5. photo: Masdar City in Abu Dhabi

    What Abu Dhabi’s City of the Future Looks Like Now

    At the UN’s World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi, attendees toured Masdar City, the master-planned eco-complex designed to show off the UAE’s commitment to sustainability.