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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


+134
  • Photo_user_blank_big

    rossella29

    over 4 years ago

    18 Comments

    I do agree with this!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    rossella29

    over 4 years ago

    18 Comments

    I do agree with this!

  • Shrel-only_max50

    ERIC4536

    over 4 years ago

    534 Comments

    How and what is spoken is situation and audience dependent.
    Shatteredbadge said it all too well.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    One problem with this list, it assumes you treat everyone, from the little old lady in the buick going 20 in a 40 to 4 armed robbers in a high performance vehicle with shots fired. I was taught by a sergeant in the day, "Be away of your audience". what he meant was balance your words with who you are aiming then at, and as well with your suroundings.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    dan43

    over 4 years ago

    6 Comments

    i do agree with this whole list for the most part, as someone who has worked doc for a good while, with inmates and as well as on the street the majority of this does work if one uses it and if physically in a power stance, showing athority and speaking politely, and ready to beat the hell out of some one if necessary, it does work , for the most part, times and situations dictate

  • Pl_mourning_badge_max160_sq90_1__max160_max50

    localcowgirl

    over 4 years ago

    200 Comments

    I agree with wiseass. But past experience has taught me if I hear "Hey you! come here!" my first reaction will be to run for safety or stand and fight.

  • Uncle_john_max50

    97and98

    over 4 years ago

    8 Comments

    Articles like this and some of the responses I have seen from "administrator wanna-bes" and "future cops" is why as a patrol officer, I don't participate in this forum. Too many uneducated or inexperienced types in here spouting about how to "work the streets." Any patrol officer worth his salt with time on knows who to talk to and how to talk to them. It's all about your audience. Some respond to please, others respond to harsher words. Only administrators forget such things.

  • John_groh_max50

    wiseass0282

    over 4 years ago

    10986 Comments

    I don't know where this guy is from. But if I walked up so someone where I worked and said " Excuse me sir, could I chat momentarily ?" I would have first been laughed at then then knocked flat on my behind. How about, " Hey how ya doin" and go from there. Most of us don't work in a social club. Otherwise I agree, you words can set the stage for the rest of the situation.

  • American_first_responder2_max50

    trooperman911

    over 4 years ago

    2472 Comments

    I have to agree with #1 especially as that is an open question that can bring on some heavy communication, and I state this from experience, when I was a rookie, I asked a man what is your problem, and he told me: Well, I have financial problems, marital problems, problems on my job, problems with my children, my dog got killed last week and this is a problem, I have problems concentrating with you stopping me and I am on my way home to take care of some of my problems and this is creating more problems for me...then he paused and asked me which one of the problems I wished to listen to first? Ha LOL; needless to say, in my first year, I learned that you do not ask them that question. Another statement you need to avoid is telling a traffic violator that you have got to write them a traffic citation, as nobody is twisting your arm behind you to make that traffic case; it is the law and you are issuing that ticket due to the fact that they violated the rules of the roadway and your choice to ticket them is because of the severity and attitude fo the violator. Just a comment of additional information that came to my mind. All of these are super great. MRPowell.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    I think it depends on the situation you're are in. There are some elements out there who are streetwise and know one thing...the long arm of the law. Then on the other hand some understand the Queen's English and they comply. oh well, just a thought.....

  • 707168ad30b8a8c4_max50

    RLC939

    over 4 years ago

    366 Comments

    What happened to "i'll blow your head off", I think I hear that more from rookie officers than any other phrase, it rarely works either, it just makes them run faster. The crook knows you are bluffing, because unless you are carrying a .50 cal rifle, a pistol round will usually only make a small hole and will not take the whole head off.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    correction have not used these 7 wish listed

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    No disrespect but I would like to know the Officers who actually work the streets (patrol) and use any of these 7 wish list. The "cocked tongue" can be more lethal then the 9 millimeter or the 45. Safety lies in the art of Bull *&&*%*% your way out a bad situation. Sorry but I actually work the streets and have used the "cocked tongue" langue to save my butt more than one time.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    every law enforcer needs to work on his or her verbal situations, not only for respect but for the honority of the citizens today. with that, your more likely to have it your way, once youve gained there trust

  • Me_max50

    slicerguy1

    over 4 years ago

    82 Comments

    HA, I use one of those ALL THE TIME! Guess I need to work on it huh?

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