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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


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  • Pnuewwfz3co7ovsnoavq5vnmvofl_max50

    IA_Techie

    over 4 years ago

    62 Comments

    It's "dogma" like Dr. Thompson's that gets any cop, rookie or vet, into trouble. EVERY situation is different. Every perp, target and witness is different. One must develop a "cop sense" which only comes from experience and quite frankly, God given ability. Nine times out of ten, I could tell instantly....without hesitation, whether or not I'm dealing with a knuckle-head. It's the brain in my gut.....

  • 21122007861_max50

    delvic_25

    over 4 years ago

    372 Comments

    Correct you cannot just stop high intensity of emotions...

  • 21122007861_max50

    delvic_25

    over 4 years ago

    372 Comments

    that is true ...

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    smusc11

    over 4 years ago

    6 Comments

    It sounds to me like it is about having some self control. Maybe even think twice about the one being chased. I am not an officer, yet. There are so many things involved that it shouldn't be overlooked.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TBSarg

    over 4 years ago

    4 Comments

    Dr. Thompson's "Verbal Judo" has been a required 8 hr. class in all CA police academy's for over 25yrs. and has certainly saved more officers lives than all the ballistic vests issued during this time. Don't let your ego & testerone get you or your partner hurt/killed, these techniques are proven extremely effective in MOST situations (nothing is 100%). There is nothing here that substitutes for proper officer safety tactics We can always escalate up the use of force continium, but why make your "job" more difficult and dangerous. The main object is to go home to your family after shift and if that takes putting your ego into your back pocket and trying a "proven" method of descalation, it's up to you. Remember no matter how tough or badass you might be... there's always someone out there tougher. Dr. Thompson was a working cop, so do yourself and your family a favor, read his Verbal Judo book and consider his techniques. (Be safe out there)

    TomB..Sgt/SWAT/K9 - ret.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    puncher25

    almost 5 years ago

    10 Comments

    Sounds like a bunch of politically correct BS. Sometimes to call in a duck, you have to talk like one. Everyone should be treated with some level of respect, but most turds do not respond to respectful and kind voice communications. When the police are involved in a situation, be it self-initiated or a call for service, we are there for a reason, and it is time to take command. There is a way to do it with tact, but treating folks out of the ghetto like you would treat your mother will possibly get you hurt or killed just as quickly as constantly trying to invoke a fight. There is middle ground that comes with experience, but you cannot apply "7 Things Cops Should Never Say To Anyone" to all daily police work. jdk569 was right on the money!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    almost 5 years ago

    Not sure I agree with this article 100%. Its a bit unrealistic. Especially the first suggestion. Whats wrong with saying "Hey, can I talk to you for a second?" Certain segments of society speak different dialects, and I don't mean languages. All the street cops out there know what I'm talking about. Some of the intelligent comments do hit the nail on the head. Respect. Meaning, keep the emotions and opinions to yourself. You must show a non-biased stance. Nobody cares what your personal take on a situation is, so if the person is a cosmically stupid repeat offender, swallow your frustration and carry on. (Your Sgt. will apreciate the break from the attitude based complaints!) 95% of encounters can be handled correctly this way. The other 5% of the time you just have to tell some people to STFU. Thats life.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    GioVannia

    almost 5 years ago

    18 Comments

    Former PO, Criminal Attorney........................

  • Cot_max50

    hbg522

    almost 5 years ago

    7006 Comments

    GioVannia what would your job be that LEO's make so much easier?

  • Respect_max50

    jdk569

    almost 5 years ago

    28 Comments

    Most of this stuff was most likely written by someone who either isn't a cop at all or a cop who spent the better part of his career shining an office chair with his behind.

  • L_f3150d_max50

    Jima

    almost 5 years ago

    70 Comments

    Great article! Wish I could get to a verbal judo course!

  • Avatar_di_max50

    Junkman

    almost 5 years ago

    102 Comments

    Good article!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    GioVannia

    almost 5 years ago

    18 Comments

    When LEO's act in an unprofessional manner, it only makes my job that much easier. Great advice! Should be given to all LEO's at Role Call.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    nibs

    almost 5 years ago

    4 Comments

    Do you really think LEO's are going to use any of these?When there in the heat of things,most don't pay any mind to what they say or do.

  • Cop_icon_max50

    copz1998

    almost 5 years ago

    10 Comments

    As a Tactical Communications instructor, sergeant, dad, and someone who tries to apply common sense to resolve problems, the Doc is correct. Over 19+ years, using a form of Tactical Communications/Verbal Judo long before it had a title (I think way back then it was called "respect"), using some verbal respect and courtesy when trying to gain voluntary compliance is productive 95+% of the time; for the remaining 5% you use the necessary force to overcome the resistance of the violator - from body weapons to baton or firearm.

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