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The Importance of Communication Skills in Law Enforcement

April 29, 2015

skills for law enforcement

After completing law enforcement courses and stepping into your first role as a police officer, it’s important to remember that one of the best aspects of any good police officer is their ability to communicate. Yes, your physical ability and understanding of legal codes and procedures is all very important, as is a calm temperament and an analytical mind. However, these must be combined with top notch communication skills for you to be truly effective and safe when dealing with the public.

Formulating Trust and Positive Relationships

It is an unfortunate truth that some people hold suspicious or negative attitudes toward police officers. Some are based on previous encounters with law enforcement and others are culturally based. In some cases, law enforcement training can help overcome these inherent prejudices by teaching new officers how to formulate trust through strong communication abilities. For example, if a potential witness trusts a police officer, they are likely to open up and offer information without coercive force being used.

Good Law Enforcement Starts With Listening

Active listening is not only a good communications tool to have; for a police officer, it could literally be a lifesaver. A police officer could use the information they glean from listening to determine if the person they are speaking with is reliable or possibly a threat. They can then use that assessment to determine if they need to take a more authoritative and aggressive stance or a compassionate approach. Non-judgemental listening, where the police officer gives the person they are speaking with their undivided attention, is the first step in establishing trust.

Verbal Communication

There are four main types of people a police officer will have to communicate with verbally on a day-to-day basis. Each requires a different tone. These are:

  • Dispatchers: This communication needs to be clear, curt and right to the point. Just the facts.
  • Suspects: When dealing with suspects, verbal communication needs to be authoritative and direct.
  • Victims: The tone of verbal communication when speaking with victims should be compassionate and soft-spoken, though still as clear as possible.
  • Civilians: When communicating verbally with witnesses and other members of the general public who have not been identified as victims or suspects, the tone will vary. Active listening is really important in determining what tone to use.

Non-Verbal Communication

Police officers must communicate their authority and command respect before even uttering a word. A police foundations diploma and a job on the police force gives professionals a key tool that helps in this goal: the uniform. A police car helps magnify this authority even more.

In order to solidify and reinforce this image of authority, a police officer must use their posture and other body language elements. Looking someone directly in the eye when speaking to them is crucial as well.

Are you ready to develop your communication skills with police foundations training and become an effective law enforcement officer?

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