Effective communications is often an underappreciated skill that most police officers possess. That is to say, many take for granted the fact that in order to be a successful police officer one must also be a successful communicator. For example, if you were to ask the average person on the street how does a police officer expresses communicative skill most would answer something to the effect that the officer “barks” directions or orders.
Such an assessment represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of police officer plays in maintaining order. In order to maintain order, a police officer does not impose himself (“bark orders”) as much as he must clearly communicate in order to take charge of an often chaotic situation. For example, if there is a traffic accident much chaos can ensue. This is doubly dangerous as the accident victims may need medical attention, etc.
So, when the police officer shows up on the scene he must clearly and effectively communicate that he is in charge of the situation. Also, he must present his critical directives to those who are present at the scene of the accident in such a manner that they clearly understand him. From this, they can follow his directives. If the police officer was unclear in his speaking then the ability for others to understand him and follow along with critical directions would be impossible.
In the case of a hit and run accident, the officer must ascertain certain facts about the driver who has “run” away. The information the officer comes in the form of direct, targeted questions to those who may have witnessed the accident. If the officer is unable to properly communicate the questions he needs answers to then the investigation may collapse. While proper oral communication is critical it would be inaccurate to assume that there is no emphasis needed on written communications.
A police officer needs to properly record a report of all incidents and these reports must be clear, concise, free of unnecessary information and easily understood by anyone who needs to review the report. As such, it goes without saying that effective communication skills are positively critical for being effective in the role of a police officer. In terms of aids to communication there is no greater aid than th uniform the officer wears. The uniform clearly broadcasts who the individual is and what their duties are. This eliminates confusion and acts as the perfect conduit to effective communication.