Talking to ‘Invisible’ People

In I found a great article from (Today’s Top Law Enforcement News.) And no, I don’t usually ready this publication, as I am not a police officer. However, check out the full text or read some of these excerpts about police officers and how they approach certain types of individuals:

You know who they are. They are the homeless wandering the alleyways mumbling. They are the preachers on the street corners declaring they are Jesus Christ. They are the “invisible” people the public ignores, but as law enforcement officers you must see them. You are their guardians. You are their protectors.

Communication begins with the non-verbal cues given in the officer’s approach. Murphy suggests standing with an open posture squarely in front of the individual. “If a person is anxious, you want to put him at ease by standing with your hands forward in front of you, and lean in slightly to talk to him,” says Murphy. “This says that you are an accessible person who is willing to listen.”

Andriukaitis also suggests standing with elbows tucked toward the waist with hands outstretched so the arms and hands partially cover equipment on the duty belt. This makes the officer look more approachable.

Because most people respond favorably to their name, Webb instructs officers to use the individual’s name to help him focus on the officer as opposed to the other voices he may be hearing in his head.

“A lot of the skills officers learn in this training are basic communication and active listening skills,” he continues. “Those skills can be applied in almost any situation an officer finds himself. We don’t use our firearm every day. We don’t get in high-speed pursuits every day. We don’t use our defensive tactics every day. But we communicate every day.”

Effective communication — with all types of people — makes the officer’s job safer and more proactive. As Murphy says, “It’s much easier to talk somebody into something than force him into it.” Being able to talk to the invisible man means being able to communicate with every man.


What types of individuals are the most difficult (or easiest) to approach?

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag


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