Effective communication is defined by Webster as a reciprocal sharing of information and ideas of written, oral and non-verbal information according to a common set of rules. Law Enforcements primary objective is to serve and to protect the community in which they serve. Effective communication in Law Enforcement is important so that the Officer understands what is going on in a situation and that the Officer is understood. An Officer can not serve his community without building a relationship with the members of the community and the only way to build a relationship is to communicate. Officers must be able to communicate verbally and non-verbally so that their thoughts, ideas, attitudes, and feelings are received in a positive manner. Communication is a two-way street what a person says and how they say it affects how the other person receives it and how they communicate in return.
There are several ineffective communication elements that may cause problems for Law Enforcement such as if the Officer is indirect and they don’t get their point across or they may be unresponsive and the person may feel as though the officer has very little interest in their situation. If the Officer is too passive they maybe taken advantage of and if they are too aggressive the other person might retaliate. Also communication could be lost if the Officer’s message is not directly stated or if their message is obscured. Law Enforcement must use effective communication to make sure that the other persons responses and needs are not misunderstood or misinterpreted.
Law Enforcement may be asked to use effective communication to resolve interpersonal conflict such as domestic disputes. Law enforcement must put there skills to work by identifying the problem and coming up with several solutions to the problem, deciding on a solution and making sure the solution is carried out.
To ensure that Law Enforcement communication is effective they should make sure that they are to the point and that the receiver of their message has no doubt as to what they want. They should be assertive in what they want and why, however they should be congenial. It is the officer’s responsibility to make sure that their message is clear and that it has no hidden messages and that they verbally express their ideas. The Officer should listen as much as he talks and pays close attention to and correctly interprets the needs of the other person. The most important element of effective communication is the elements most often over looked and that is listening it is very important for Law Enforcement to get the full details of the story before drawing a conclusion. It is important that they ask reference question or paraphrase what was said to be sure that they correctly heard what the other person said.
A major source of problem in communication is defensiveness. For Law Enforcement to be effective communicators they must be aware that defensiveness is a common response when negative information is received. Law Enforcement must try to make adjustments for the defensiveness. Law Enforcement has to realize that when people feel threatened they will protect themselves. Defensiveness can take the form of aggression, anger, competitiveness, avoidance among other responses. Law Enforcement especially in these situations should take caution and prepare themselves with self-protection by using effective communication to prevent situations from escalading when they can.
Law Enforcement has to take in to account that people communicate on many levels. Law enforcement must be diligent in watching the facial expressions, eye contact, posture, hand and feet movements, body movement and placement, and appearance of those they interact with. Every move a person makes can communicating something that can be useful to Law Enforcement if they listen with their eyes.
The best way for Law Enforcement to be an effective communicator is to pay attention when others are speaking and to adapt their message to that of the individual to whom they are speaking with. Communication is only effective when both parties mutually understand what is being communicated. Law Enforcement maintaining a positive and effective communications with the community is the only way to keep a healthy relationship with those that it serves.