Police officers have to communicate with people in many different situations. They may have to diffuse a violent situation, comfort somebody at a time of distress or give evidence in complex court cases. Verbal communication skills are crucial to the role and are included in any job description for police officer roles. Police officers need to adjust their verbal communication styles according to the situation and the person they are talking to.
Police officers should be able to demonstrate a broad range of communication skills. Some work will be done over the phone and they should develop a confident telephone manner. They will also need to describe an on-going situation in detail across police radio when they are in contact with headquarters during a job. Police officers should have good information gathering skills. This means that that can understand how to use both open and closed questions, and be able to listen carefully to what is being said.
Verbal communication skills are regularly required for conflict resolution. Police officers might find themselves intervening in a domestic dispute or breaking up a pub brawl. At times they might be faced by a violent offender and need good verbal communication skills to de-escalate the situation and keep all parties safe. An assertive manner and an ability to give firm instructions is needed at many incidents that police officers attend. Similar skills may be needed at a station front desk if people come in to report crimes.
Giving evidence in court is a key part of police work. Police officers need to speak clearly in court and get their point across. They also need to remain calm under questioning from defence lawyers and judges. Preparation is key to giving evidence. Officers should know exactly what they are going to say and try to anticipate the type of questions they might be asked.
Informing family members about the death of a loved one is one of the most difficult tasks for any police officer and requires knowledge of how to act in this situation. Officers should have all available information with them and avoid police jargon during the conversation. The news should be broken gently but clearly and directly. They should be prepared for an emotional reaction and try to avoid clichés such as ‘time heals’ when dealing with this. Compassion and concern are essential to this type of communication.