Print

Training >> Browse Articles >> Patrol

+134

7 Things Cops Should Never Say To Anyone

7 Things Cops Should Never Say To Anyone

By Dr. George Thompson

Dr. George J. Thompson is the President and Founder of the Verbal Judo Institute, a tactical training and management firm now based in Auburn, NY. For full details on Dr. Thompson’s work and training, please visit the Verbal Judo Web Site.

Safety lies in knowledge. If you deal with cagey street people, or indeed difficult people at all, anywhere, you need to watch your tongue! The “cocked tongue” can be more lethal than the 9 millimeter or the 45.

See this list of seven commonly used statements that can work against you.

7. “HEY YOU! COME HERE!”

Consider, you are on patrol and you see someone suspicious you want to talk with, so you most naturally say, “Hey you! Come here!” Verbal Judo teaches that “natural language is disastrous!” and this provides a wonderful example. You have just warned the subject that he is in trouble. “Come here” means to you, “Over here, you are under my authority.” But to the subject it means, “Go away-quickly!” The words are not tactical for they have provided a warning and possibly precipitated a chase that would not have been necessary had you, instead, walked casually in his direction and once close said, “Excuse me. Could I chat with momentarily?” Notice this question is polite, professional, and calm.

Also notice, you have gotten in close, in his “space” though not his “face,” and now you are too close for him to back off, giving you a ration of verbal trouble, as could have easily been the case with the “Hey you! Come here!” opening.

The ancient samurai knew never to let an opponent pick the place of battle for then the sun would always be in your eyes! “Come here” is loose, lazy, and ineffective language. Easy, but wrong. Tactically, “May I chat with you” is far better, for not only have you picked the place to talk, but anything the subject says, other than yes or no-the question you asked-provides you with intelligence regarding his emotional and/or mental state. Let him start any ‘dance’ of resistance.

Point: Polite civility can be a weapon of immense power!

6. “CALM DOWN!”

Consider this verbal blunder. You approach some angry folks and you most naturally say, “Hey, calm down!” This command never works, so why do we always use it? Because it flows naturally from our lips!

What’s wrong with it? One, the phrase is a criticism of their behavior and suggests that they have no legitimate right to be upset! Hence, rather than reassuring them that things will improve, which should be your goal, you have created a new problem! Not only is there the matter they were upset about to begin with, but now they need to defend their reaction to you! Double the trouble!

Better, put on a calming face and demeanor-in Verbal Judo we say, ‘Chameleon up’-look the person in the eye and say, gently, “It’s going to be all right. Talk to me. What’s the matter?” The phrase "What’s the matter?’ softens the person up to talk and calm down; where ‘Calm down’ hardens the resistance. The choice is yours!

5. “I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU AGAIN!”

We teach in Verbal Judo that ‘repetition is weakness on the streets!’ and you and I both know that this phrase is almost always a lie. You will say it again, and possibly again and again!

Parents do it all the time with their kids, and street cops do it with resistant subjects, all the time! The phrase is, of course, a threat, and voicing it leaves you only one viable option-action! If you are not prepared to act, or cannot at the time, you lose credibility, and with the loss of creditability comes the loss of power and safety!

Even if you are prepared to act, you have warned the subject that you are about to do so and forewarned is forearmed! Another tactical blunder! Like the rattlesnake you have made noise, and noise can get you hurt or killed. Better to be more like the cobra and strike when least suspected!

If you want to stress the seriousness of your words, say something like, ‘Listen, it’s important that you get this point, so pay close attention to what I’m about to tell you.’

If you have used Verbal Judo’s Five Steps of Persuasion you know that we act after asking our “nicest, most polite question,”

“Sir, is there anything I could say that would get you to do A, B and C? I’d like to think so?”

If the answer is NO, we act while the subject is still talking! We do not telegraph our actions nor threaten people, but we do act when verbal persuasion fails.

4. “BE MORE REASONABLE!”

Telling people “be more reasonable” has many of the same problems as “Calm Down!” Everyone thinks h/she is plenty reasonable given the present circumstances! I never have had anyone run up to me and say, “Hey, I know I’m stupid and wrong, but here’s what I think!” although I have been confronted by stupid and wrong people! You only invite conflict when you tell people to “be more reasonable!”

Instead, make people more reasonable by the way in which you handle them, tactically! Use the language of reassurance-“Let me see if I understand your position,” and then paraphrase-another VJ tactic!-back to them their meaning, as you see it, in your words! Using your words will calm them and make them more reasonable because your words will (or better be!) more professional and less emotional.

This approach absorbs the other’s tension and makes him feel your support. Now you can help them think more logically and less destructively, without making the insulting charge implied in your statement, “Be more reasonable!”

Again, tactics over natural reaction!

The Top 3 Things Cops Should Never Say


+134
  • Suit_max50

    cmm07r

    over 2 years ago

    1030 Comments

    Ok, so we can't say "It's the law" (#3); but can we say "Because, I am the law!"

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    policebodyarmor

    over 2 years ago

    22 Comments

    very informative! :)

    ---

    http://softbodyarmor.tumblr.com

  • White_shirt_max50

    uncledennis1

    about 3 years ago

    23296 Comments

    They forgot number 8. Don't make me have to hurt you.LOL

  • Driving_my_truck_summer_2010_max50

    leathergurl05

    about 3 years ago

    126 Comments

    I enjoyed this article ALOT! This information can also help in personal relationships. Most of us have been there and done that.

  • Esu_patch_max50

    esu

    about 3 years ago

    498 Comments

    Not for me,,,, if I want you to come here Im not asking you nicely Im telling you. If Im telling you I prbably have good reason for doing it, I dont care what you think is my reason. Its like the video we have on this site where an offcer is shot repeatedly yet still still continues to say "Sir, stop shooting me please". I also dont think half the mutts Ive interacted with could understand more than 5 word sentences. It might have a place sometime somewhere I'm just not sure where. I remember an FBI study on cop killers, most of them thought the cop was too soft based on his demeanor, actions and words and they thought they could take advantage of the officer because of that. Most agreed that the officer should have been more authoritative. That always stuck in the back of my mind when dealing with perps.

  • Puppy_max50

    jwoods4290

    about 3 years ago

    66 Comments

    funny but true.

  • Evil_max50

    Scurge

    over 3 years ago

    1232 Comments

    I can't think of other things that top those 3 things, I'm just sayin

  • Clip_image002_max50

    TYRAPCSO40

    over 3 years ago

    4 Comments

    Stuff

  • Mandy_and_me_max50

    FCPD0341

    over 3 years ago

    792 Comments

    Wow....I think I say those 7 things on a daily basis

  • Tbl_max50

    LP27

    over 3 years ago

    592 Comments

    Verbal judo is the first step in becoming a ninja!

  • Id

    SgtSteve

    over 3 years ago

    10 Comments

    When you're dealing with an out of control arrestee who is demanding to know you name and badge number, I have learned that saying, "my name is Officer F... You!" can backfire. Sure is therapeutic with the right people though.

  • Don_27t_20tred_20on_20me_max50

    Riot

    over 3 years ago

    516 Comments

    #1 thing a cop should never say.....*drumroll*

    "Man, it sure is quiet tonight!"

  • Img_0029_2_max50

    Joe1095

    over 3 years ago

    4 Comments

    I just wish more of us would follow this. Its definitely a hidden tactical response to be able to be nice, even to people who we know in the back of our mind that we are about to arrest.

  • Super_mom_max50

    hasaan0406

    over 3 years ago

    104 Comments

    headshot...thats a clever recovery tactic! thumbs up! lol

  • Me2_max50

    bstites

    over 3 years ago

    1028 Comments

    I bump jworrell.

PoliceLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a criminal justice degree program. Use PoliceLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.

Recent Activity

000000000000000aaaaaaaaaa_max30
Mrbdguard gave a thumbs up to The Photo "65628593-M.jpg", 1 minute ago.
Images_gator_max30
Lulusgt posted in: "What has happened to my Police Link?", 19 minutes ago.
Img_2202_max30
MrsBristol commented on: "Arnita Bristol", 21 minutes ago.
Lil_piggy_max30
goodguyinar416 is ranked No.1 for the day in PoliceTrivia, 28 minutes ago.
Lil_piggy_max30
goodguyinar416 is ranked No.1 for the day in PoliceTrivia, 29 minutes ago.