Law enforcement professionals are more likely to encounter dangerous extremists than virtually any other segment of American society — and those confrontations are, tragically, sometimes fatal. In fact, a 2010 University of Maryland study found that 49 of more than 400 people killed by far-right extremists since 1990, or nearly 15%, have been law enforcement officers. With that in mind, the SPLC has undertaken a number of initiatives to equip officers with information and other resources that may help them carry out their duties with a minimum of danger to themselves.
Our free law enforcement trainings teach officers how to recognize hate groups, symbols and activity; the threat potential of specific groups; and how to respond to hate group activity. The Intelligence Files contains updated biographical profiles of leading hate groups and extremist leaders, plus background on the various extremist ideologies. And our Hate Map helps officials locate extremist groups within their communities.
Racist skinheads are among the most violent and volatile elements of the white supremacist movement and have been responsible for numerous murders and other acts of violence, often targeting minorities. Law enforcement officials face significant danger when confronting them. Below is a 12-minute training video produced by the SPLC to help officers learn more about the skinhead subculture and the warning signs that can help them deal with the threat. Other SPLC resources are also listed.
Essay: Skinheads in America
Racist Skinhead Symbols and Tattoos
Timeline of the Racist Skinhead Movement
Leaving the Neo-Nazi Lifestyle, and Tattoos, Behind
- Blood & Honour
- Keystone United
- Vinlanders Social Club
- Eric "The Butcher" Fairburn
- Brien James
- Randal Lee Krager
American Front Members Arrested
Intelligence Report Special Edition - Racist Skinheads: Understanding the Threat
If you are an officer who specializes in tracking racist skinheads, there is a national organization dedicated to that purpose. The Skinhead Intelligence Network – or SIN – is a unique network of officers that is meant to aid law enforcement in monitoring, tracking and prosecuting racist skinheads involved in criminal activity. Active-duty officers interested in more information about joining SIN can email their inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terror From the Right: 75 Plots, Conspiracies and Racist Rampages Since Oklahoma City. This booklet outlines terrorism from the domestic radical right since 1995. Includes a roster of murdered law enforcement officials.
Skinheads in America: Racists on the Rampage (PDF). This resource outlines the history of the racist skinhead movement in America. Includes a timeline, a glossary of skinhead terms, profiles of several leaders, and a section detailing racist symbols and tattoos.
The Second Wave: Return of the Militias. This 2009 white paper detailing the return of the antigovernment "Patriot" militias that produced so much criminal violence during their first iteration in the 1990s.
The articles summarized below are selected from the SPLC's quarterly Intelligence Report magazine and may be of special interest to law enforcement officials.
"Devil's Den: Inside the Aryan Nations," 2008. A review of a book by confidential informant Dave Hall and his handler, FBI agent Tim Burkey, that details their work against the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations.
"Breaking the Skins," 2006. Details the work of Mesa, Ariz., Detective Matt Browning, who infiltrated murderous racist skinhead groups.
"Going Undercover," 2006. In an interview, former FBI agent Mike German discusses working undercover against racist skinhead groups and antigovernment militias.
"End of Watch," 2005. Details the stories of 15 law enforcement officials murdered by radical-right extremists. Also includes a slide show of the slain officers.
"The Abbeville Horror," 2004. Tells the story of two law enforcement officials murdered by members of the Bixby family, zealots of the antigovernment "Patriot" movement, in Abbeville, S.C.
"At Death's Door," 2003. An interview with David Koenig, a former Dayton, Ohio, police officer who was shot nearly to death in a 1979 encounter with the late Harold (Ray) Redfeairn, one of the most notorious figures of the radical racist right.
"On the Streets," 2003. A profile of Sgt. Brett Parson of Washington, D.C.'s Metropolitan Police, who headed one of the country's most effective liaison units to sexual minorities in the community.
Sovereign citizens, who believe that they do not have to obey most federal and state laws, have been a particular danger to law enforcement officials because of their belief that the government has no authority to require driver's licenses and vehicle registrations.
Download this video (.mov, 1.44G)
"'Sovereign' Citizen Kane," 2010. A broad overview of the sovereign citizens movement, its beliefs and how it has recently swelled to as many as 300,000 people. Includes information about officers murdered by sovereigns.
"The Sovereigns," 2010. Short profiles of a dozen contemporary sovereign leaders.
"A Dictionary of the Peculiar," 2010. A lexicon of the peculiar words and phrases favored by sovereign citizens.
"Tips for Law Enforcement," 2010. Key tips for law enforcement officers who may encounter sovereign citizens in their work.
"The Paranoid Style," 2010. Editorial by Intelligence Report Editor Mark Potok exploring the link between conspiracy theories and criminal violence.
The Intelligence Report occasionally runs "Legal Briefs," some of which may be especially useful to law enforcement officials.
"Of Race and Roads," 2009. Racial profiling is not only illegal, but also remarkably ineffective.
"Prosecutorial Discretion," 2007. What are the limits to the discretion of officials in choosing to prosecute or not to prosecute?
"Peace and Protest," 2006. Can police officials force protesters to identify themselves?
"Officer Klansman," 2006. A Nebraska arbitrator's ruling that the state police must rehire an admitted Klansman is almost certainly in error.
"Hit List or Free Speech?" 2002. When does the targeting of certain individuals cross the legal line?
"Guarding Against Hate," 2000. Prison authorities face significant legal hazards if they tolerate racist guards.
"Unmasking the Klan," 1999. Are anti-masking laws aimed at the Klan enforceable under the Constitution?
"Avoiding Violence at Klan Rallies," 1998. Outlines steps cities may legally take when radical groups plan rallies.