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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
  • Cool-santa1_max50

    36TR

    about 5 years ago

    7672 Comments

    Great article!! I can attest to the wonders of Verbal Judo. All of our new hirees go through an "In-House" class on Verbal Judo. I've had occassions where it's been used VERY successfully!! When used correctly, you can have a subject (that's aggressive when you make initial contact) apologizing for his actions by the time you're done with the call. IT WORKS!!

  • 100_0834_max50

    Cal26

    about 5 years ago

    6 Comments

    Wonderful tips for a future police officer thanks!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 5 years ago

    I think all "7" things mentioned in this segment were awesome! Specifically the #1 comment, "What do you want me to do about it?" The solution to give guidance even if you don't know the answer was crucial, by directing the individual to a more knowledgeable source or department stand in line with the saying, "To Protect and to Serve". This act is to be clearly viewed as both, #1 the information and guidance provided by the officer can save the subject from harm or discomfort (Protect) and two, the officer is truly providing his/ her services, not having the mentality of someone that really does'nt care but serving someone in need of guidance and good direction (Serve). All these strategies will move the hearts and minds of those criminals wanting to live a good life. However, some criminals will never change, the evil that some do is embedded in their DNA and there's no hope for them, they are destined to a place of total darkness, may God have mercy on their souls.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 5 years ago

    What's your problem? How many times have we said this to our own children, friends, mates, etc. This recommended solution is perfect and will work in all areas of life where people may be needing mental help.

  • Smile_max50

    shell44

    about 5 years ago

    10 Comments

    We get this one a LOT! THATS THE LAW! REALLY? I know the law, but is it ok for a cop to continually say, "Well in the state of Texas" we do things like......And their point is what? They do things different than the rest of the world? NO- not suppose to be. I am so confused at the officers always using the law to their own needs NOT to protect- to harrass you and try to intimidate, humiliate,and aggravate...That wont happen...Please answer my questions, and again, what can I do about this? Im speaking from total exerience and events that have happened on a regular basis....Like my son (18) graduated. Good kid(not just cause he's mine) and he was with a couple of friends. One of the friends is the sheriffs son... My son has always been welcome to visit at the sheriffs home with the sheriffs son..One night in the summer, my son was out late at his friends home(sheriffs son)We live 500 yards away....My son texts me and says the city police wont let me walk home...Hmmm....why? dont know....Hmmm...now Im pissed because we have had other issues with this same damn officer(5x) with MY same son...My son was held by the police in front of the Sheriffs home with a friend of his who was spending the night. First the cop droveup like he was a sniper with his headlights, all lights OUT!!.. I asked my son,"why wont he let you come home?" HE said the officer will not say why..Once the officer realized that was my son and who I was from the past incidents, which were nothing, he let my son and his friend walk home. By then I am on my way down the street, 500 yards and here comes my son down the street he was stopped on, and the officer comes down another street toward my home, and I was waiting for him to ask him what is with the continual harrassment? Officer says he got a call there was a disturbance..Hmmm... my son was disturbing who while walking home?.. Officer says he wasnt disturbing anyone.. ok...so why cant he walk home? No reply form officer, NOTHING abslutely nothing.. I asked the officer if he would answer the question? he said, "NO, I dont have to answer you!" OK then what did my son do? "Officer", Nothing! well then I would like to know if he didnt break the law, why is is he is continually harrassed by YOU when walking home doing NOTHING as you say... I still got No response.. I spoke to the Mayor of that little town and the Chief of police who was NO better and the end results were. 2 continual years of this cop harrassing my son and other minorites,-- he gets has a desk job?... Unacceptable...He should have to go back to the Academy and take some tests on his own behavior and his Nasty Racist mouth...These cops have said and done all the things they should never say!! I mean ALL 7 things..Please if anyone has any suggestions feel free to share them.. No matter where you live, the police should be there to help not harrass, and make you feel like you should never call them... Confused!

  • Smile_max50

    shell44

    about 5 years ago

    10 Comments

    My grandfather was a vietnam vet, and a police officer in Chicago. I loved being around him growing up however, I know that their are more than these 7 things you never say.. I moved to Texas 4 years ago and these cops here in some areas, ARE, THAT way. they say every thing and DO what they Are NOT suppose to do...What and whom can I report a problem to? NOT because of what they SAY it because of what they DO!!Breaking the LAW.....Remember the footage on GMA with the cop who pulled over the man going to see his dying Mother-in-law? Also the blind man, and the couple arrested for no reason and accused of being DRUNK..They were NOT!! It goes on and on and on...

  • Officer_bob_max50

    Faye_Cat91

    about 5 years ago

    650 Comments

    haha..even I knew about #1, and i'm not even a cop..lol

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    wrenj1977

    about 5 years ago

    16 Comments

    7.“HEY YOU! COME HERE!”
    6.CALM DOWN!”
    5. “I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU AGAIN!”
    4. “BE MORE REASONABLE!”
    3. “BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE RULES” (or “THAT’S THE LAW!”)
    2. “WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM?”
    1. “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO ABOUT IT?”

    OK HERE IS THE DEAL POLICE OFFICERS DO NOT SAY IT TO PISS SOMEONE OFF THEY SAY BC THEY GET PAID TO DO THEIR JOBS NOT TO BE NICE TO THE ONES THEY ARE PROSECUTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    DONT LIKE WELL GUESS WHAT "ITS THE LAW"

  • Super_troopers_max50

    mtty

    about 5 years ago

    114 Comments

    For the 10min(sic) I was a cop, I learned one thing: Let the Old balding fat guy in the cruiser do all of the talking, I was just finished road trainingwhen I left (and went USAF) but, that's it, You cannot use a one size fits all... The experienced cop has learned what to say, trial and error, all you need as a new cop or any cop is ears to hear how the old balding fat guy talks to a perp or a victim.

  • Iii_max50

    ill_taze_u_bro

    about 5 years ago

    2844 Comments

    I partially agree with the number 1. After I have talked with the the parties, I will ask them what it is that they want to happen. I find that if I can make what they want to happen possiable, is the best way to resolve the conflict. Sometimes that isn't always able to be made so, but I think that I am addressing their concerns.

  • 060_max50

    AZUCAR154

    about 5 years ago

    52 Comments

    #6. Calm Down.....i totally agree! i HATE when im angry and some one says "calm down" GGRR

  • Kemper_max50

    kemperpj

    about 5 years ago

    26 Comments

    verbal judo is a great tool, as officers we have so many tools on our belt, our gun, asp, mace, but alot of officers forget that their most valuable tool is thier mouth if they use it correctly. although there are times when you have to play the mean cop to get someone under control, alot of the time you can get someone to comply by being polite and proffessional, and if you have to deal with that person again they might remember how you treated them decent and not like the nasty thug they most likely are

  • Uniform3_max50

    Keithgrogg

    about 5 years ago

    630 Comments

    I took this course about 8 years ago, and have had three refreshers on it...It works....when you are dealing with rational people...Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10, we don't deal with rational people, so it works about 10% of the time...Good tool to have, just don't think it'll solve all your problems...There ARE times when you need to show who's in charge of the situation, and all the "I'm ok, you're ok" crap needs to be flung out a window.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    KweameB

    about 5 years ago

    2 Comments

    Hello everyone, i'm glad to be here. I need someone to help me enter into the Police Training, i have wish all the time to be a police officer.
    Hello!!! anyone to help me?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    dilligafdude

    about 5 years ago

    16 Comments

    Good cop ,bad cop usually doesn't work thanks to all the cop shows on TV

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