Chapter 1


Police officers are primarily trained in the use of force, firearms, traffic, investigation and patrol, and legal studies; yet an officer’s daily life consists primarily of using their communication skills during what are usually troubling circumstances for both the police and the member of the community.

Ultimately, police communicate with people to problem-solve. Officers must be able to effectively communicate with people from a wide range of socioeconomic levels, ranging from homeless people to high-income professionals. Officers are required to effectively communicate with this range of people, at times moments apart, in a manner that is respectful to each of these groups. Likewise, officers are also confronted with people who display myriad emotions, including people with emotion disturbance, individuals displaying murderous intentions, or those who are reacting adversely to drugs or alcohol consumption. In the course of an officer’s day, people exhibit a wide range of behavior and come from a wide range of cultures, making effective interpersonal communication difficult.

Police officers in Canada spend most of their time not enforcing the law or fighting criminals, but rather keeping the peace. They do this by attending to calls in which people are not getting along and require an agent of peace to settle their differences. In keeping the peace, communication skills are critical and are needed to de-escalate situations without the use of force. With communication skills, officers are able to avoid harming people while keeping themselves and others safe.

Communication skills also allow officers to avoid any suggestion that their use of force was excessive, therefore avoiding police act investigations, professional standard investigations or criminal investigations. The use of effective communication by police will enable the community to better appreciate and trust the officer and the department, and view both in a positive light.. Effective communication in law enforcement is critical for law enforcement in a progressive society.


A police officer talking to a man wearing a 420 shirt.
Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels


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Communications in Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice System: Key Principles Copyright © 2021 by Steve McCartney and Cindy Patterson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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