Being able to communicate effectively is a tool law enforcement officers need to be productive in their jobs. Officers need to recognize verbal and nonverbal cues given by individuals they are interviewing and be aware of their own verbal and nonverbal actions in the same process. To be effective an officer needs to know how to listen and not just hear a conversation. Training in peace officers help prepare for the barriers they may encounter with society as well as other officers in their department. Knowing the chain of command and what is actually and what is rumor can present discontenting among officers in a department. The bottom line is communication in law enforcement is a vital tool in the success in society and within a department.
Effective communication is critical within criminal justice organizations. When communicating with criminals, witnesses, suspects, victims, attorneys, and law enforcement, it is imperative that effective communication is employed, because if not, it could change the life of other people. Criminal justice organizations utilize formal and informal channels that include verbal, non-verbal, and paraverbal communication. Law enforcement officers must be skilled in the art of communication; both oral and written.
A great leader is simple defined by getting things done through people. A leader needs to work with and through individuals and groups to accomplish organizational goals through effective communication. Kokkelenberg states “we tend to trust those individuals who have integrity, solid values and a strong character ethic”. To be a trusted leader, the leader needs work on your character and be trustworthy thru strong effective communication.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame performed a case study called Identifying Characteristics of Exemplary Baltimore Police Department First Line Supervisors. The researchers used a focus group of commanders, police officers and supervisors to develop a set of characteristics that could be used by peers to identify sergeants they considered exemplary, and those who were less so. “Among the traits identified as vital by the focus group were character and integrity; knowledge of the job; management skills; communication skills; interpersonal skills; ability to develop entry-level officers; problem solving and critical thinking skills; effectiveness as role model and as disciplinarian, and the ability to be proactive” (Peak, 2010). The chain of command directs the formal channels of upward, downward, and horizontal communication through the levels of command. The chain of command starts with a director and controls and inaugurates the levels of command when communicating written policy and procedure throughout a department. Basically listening and following orders of the superior officers is formal communication in law enforcement.
People thrive in organizations where communication is clear, direct, and honest, yet
sitting down and talking face-to-face to effectively solve problems. S.A.R.A. (Scanning, Analysis, Response, Assessment) provides officers with a logical, step-by-step framework in which to identify, analyze, respond to, and evaluate crime, fear of crime, and neighborhood disorder. The Oakland Police Department (OPD) addressed a serious motel problem near its local airport. The OPD took certain steps to resolve the situation by taking the time to communicate to solve the problem. The OPD scanned the hotel after being told that prostitution was a major problem. The police also analyzed the situation by communicating to the states attorney about applicable laws and researched the city zoning. A response plan was put in place to make major changes to the motel. The final assessment after two years with the response plan resulted in only one call placed to the police for help. Effective communication within the Oakland Police Department resulted a good change.
Peak, K. (2010). Justice Administration: Police, Courts, and Corrections Management (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.