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5 Best Tips To Improve Communication Skills In Police Work
Written by
Sarrah McGraw
March 2014
Written by
Sarrah McGraw
March 2014

As a police officer, if you set out to improve your communication skills, it will serve you well throughout your career as police officer. After all you are in the business of resolving issues. Every single day you come across different people with all sorts of backgrounds; ordinary citizens as well as criminals.  You can’t expect to rely merely on the use of force. Can you? You need the right blend of physical and communication skills. Learn to communicate in the best way and you’ll be able to solve most problems before they get out of hand. There is no one way in which you become a better communicator. Let’s just look at five tips that can help ordinary police officers to improve their communication skills and become great police officers.

What Can Training Academies Do?

Make it a Part of Police Training - You can’t simply draw a line between hard skills and soft skills

Communication skills training should definitely become a part of the use-of-force training programs. Training academies should hire communication instructors who have experience of front line policing. Hiring a Masters or PhD in communications may not be helpful. Use-of-force instructors should either be trained to teach, or kept informed about the communication skills being taught so that they can demonstrate those skills in the use-of-force classes too. Perhaps you’ll learn to deal with problems without the use of force.

Replicate Counselor Education Training Programs - What about some role play?

Counselor education programs usually include a module on interpersonal skills which should serve as a good model for police training too. Academies train recruits by creating mock situations or find ways to model common interactions between police officers and public. During role-plays the instructor can judge performance, give feedback and model one situation after the other until police recruits acquire all the skills they need.

What can you do?


How about some hours of study every week? It’ll pay off

Your police academy didn't teach you the soft skills that you need at work? There are other options. Consider sparing some time and get enrolled in a training course. All these courses are intended to teach you many things that include but are not just restricted to; improving your communication skills so that you can conduct more effective interviews, prepare reports, present evidence in a court and become more competent in team communications. You can find many different courses. Just opt for one which you think will help you the most with your job. Some examples are:

  • Strategic Policing
  • Ethics for Police Leaders
  • Communication Skills for Police Personnel
  • Police Leadership and Management Development

Don’t worry. You won’t have to travel or leave your job to take up any of these programs. You can make your life easy and find a school which offers online courses.

You've got to keep practicing

"You can't become tennis pro by watching training videos. If you want to get to Wimbledon you've got to hit the ball," says police communication specialist Gary McDougall.

Yes, class room training would not suffice. You've got to apply what you've learned. Take every new situation and interaction as a new opportunity to practice your skills or to improve them further.

Do you know what is it that you need to win people?

Every day we come across people who complain about the attitude of police officers. Perhaps you need to know what sort of an attitude you must adopt in order to get your point across. Most of the time, what you need is cooperation and compliance. Remember because of your uniform and badge, you carry a stigma with you. Not surprisingly, you may be perceived as threatening by the common man. Try to develop a level of trust when you deal with people. Make every effort to appear kind, understanding and considerate. Show respect. It’ll help you get much of the needed information which will ultimately help you solve the case. It might be hard initially and people may not even respond to kindness but you need to keep in mind that they might not have been in such a situation before. And lastly; it goes without saying that your soft skills can be combined with some level of action or force if needed.

Hopefully most of you will now concede that to have professional police officers who can protect lives and properties in the best way, the value of soft skills as a part of police training should not be overlooked.

Author Bio

Sarrah McGraw is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania with a Master of Science in Criminology. She currently resides in Dayton, Ohio and she regularly contributes to www.LearningLaw.com.

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