Verbal Communication Communication of all types can be found everywhere. It does not necessarily have to be spoken or oral, it can be found in verbal and nonverbal forms. This is especially true in the areas of the criminal justice system. Communications can be found in equipment, reports, phones, in roll call, or everyday operations. For police officers and other members of the criminal justice system, communication in some form or type can always be certain. It may be in the form of verbal communication, such as roll call, talking with the public, talking to peers, inmates, administration, or supervisors.
It is said that nearly 70 percent of one’s time is spent communicating (2009). Officers or those appointed by the department, talk to the media on a daily basis. Whether it is the television, the newspaper reporters, or the radio, it is on a daily basis. For law enforcement officials there is the need to communicate with the press from time to time.
This could be to talk about public affairs, providing information about a situation that the police are involved in, or to make announcements. It is common in most areas that law enforcement appoints a spokesperson for the department.
This person chosen represents the community and the department, along with all officers. This person must have the intelligence and the ability to speak clearly and in a concise manner, and have the ability to understand questions if asked. He or she should have some clear understanding of what the media only needs to hear.
One way to assure this is to him or her draft a statement, before making the announcement to the press. When drafting the announcement and when reading the announcement, the person should avoid using what is called police jargon or codes.
Using such language can be confusing to the general public and may cause confusion with the press. When talking to the press he or she should be able to avoid being distracted and should keep eye contact with those who he or she are talking to. Nonverbal communication between the press and officers can also have a confusing effect at time. “Sometimes nonverbal messages may contradict verbal; often they may express true feelings more accurately than the spoken or written language (Murphy & Hildebrandt). For nonverbal communication, the situations that he or she may want to be careful with can include the stance.
There should be no slouching or leaning on the podium. This gives an appearance of the press seeing that he or she either does not want to be there or it could show disinterest. The spokesperson choose vocabulary carefully also. He or she may want to use a friendly tone also, and avoid using emotions during the press release. This must remember that the press usually ahs cameras somewhere that records everything that is said verbally and nonverbally, which may cause some confusion. The courtroom is another place that communication is done daily.
Within this setting the law enforcement officer or other personnel, may be called to testify for the prosecutor. Communication in the courtroom setting for police, prosecutors, defense, the suspect, judge and jury, all play a crucial part. The officer when called to testify, should have the ability to understand the questions clearly, is able to listen effectively, and be able to explain the facts written in his or her report. The affidavit is based on the facts that have been written in the officers’ incident report.
There may be situations or times when an officer feels uncomfortable, while sitting or standing in a group of other people. Or he or she may fill uncomfortable when having to be in front of the others in the courtroom. The officer should never let emotions or nonverbal cues cloud his or her testimony. During cross-examine; the reputation of the officer could be misinterpreted. Before testimony officers should try to talk to the prosecutor to learn what to expect. He or she may want to practice the testimony also.
Being able to communicate verbally and use less nonverbal cues like emotions, could make the difference in the testimony. When testifying the officer should be able to answer in a clear and audible voice with recalling or stating just the facts. He or she may also want to remember to present themselves as a professional and to look and act as one. Not only is his or her reputation at stake, but the department also. For law enforcement personnel who work inside the correctional facility, communication techniques can be a critical part of the job. Officers must be able to talk to their peers, and inmates.
The ability to be an active listener, understand, read and write clearly and to follow verbal and nonverbal orders are very important. There may be issues at time among inmates that may cause a barrier of communication. Some of these barriers could include the disruptive inmate, a language barrier, such as a foreign language or a deaf person. There may be the inmate that may cause tension between the officers and others. There are many factors to consider on how to communicate within the correctional setting. There is the use of daily reports that must be filled out by officers.
There has to be a clear understanding by the officers and other employees of operating procedures. Incident reports that are fact based must be filled out by officers involved. As with police the correctional officer must also confront inmates and vice versa. The officer should at all times be careful of the nonverbal clues used. This would include his or her emotions at the time, the way he or she stands, or the tone of voice. Most correctional officers are trained on the use of verbal and nonverbal methods of communications before being assigned to the facility (2010).
For the peer to peer communication the officer must be able to understand the assignment given, whether it is verbal or nonverbal communications. Assignments are usually given at the beginning of the shift, and it is the responsibility of the officer and peer to have a clear understanding of what it is. If the officer does not understand it is his or her responsibility to ask questions. Another form of peer to peer is among the officers themselves. Communication is a key role inside of the correctional facility when working with the inmates.
He or she should be able to understand clearly the instructions that pertain to an inmate or surroundings. He or she must be able to read nonverbal cues from other officers and to be able to read nonverbal cues from the inmates. Within the Juvenile facility, there is a great need for communication of nonverbal and verbal. Like any other facility the officers must be able to understand the importance of filing out the report, whether it be an incident, daily, or new arrival. Each officer must have the intelligence and ability to be able to communicate with a juvenile in custody.
Like inmates in the adult correctional setting, juveniles may also become belligerent at times and want to cause problems. The officer must be able to talk with the juvenile as well as be able to listen. Officers must also be able to read the nonverbal cues that are given by the inmates. These could include actions such as throwing of things, language, the stance, eye contact, vocal sounds, and emotions such as anger, sadness and more. Juveniles have a language that seems to be something that they have learned. Most people call it street slang and signs.
Most officers are provided continuing training on problems involving juveniles, as well as training to understand the signs and slang used by them. For Officers and other employees of the juvenile facility there is the need to understand clearly the written reports, the operational procedures, releasing of information to outside agencies and families and the ability to talk clearly to peers. Officers and other employees may be called on to answer questions over the phone, concerning a juvenile. They may have to work on computers, and other equipment, or spend hours doing paperwork.
This is all an important part of communicating within the facility. When an officer’s peer assigns the officer to a certain department in the facility the officer must have a clear understanding of what is expected of him or her at the time. The one way for the officer to make certain of the assignment, is to ask the needed questions if any should arise. The officer must be able to take orders on a continuous basis and be able to understand the details. When working with other officers there has to be a clear line of communication between the officers. Nonverbal cues, as with any other law enforcement facility should be easily read.
The officer must have the ability to do so, in case something should happen. These nonverbal cues could be eye contact, a facial expression, or a nudge, or a physical gesture such as the wave of a hand. As with any other situation officers that work in a juvenile facility must show professionalism and act accordingly. The officer must be careful when using nonverbal communication. These include keeping the emotions from getting away from him or her, keeping the tone of his or her voice from becoming too loud, watching the stance and posture when talking to other employees, inmates, and peers.
Communication can be seen in many different forms. These can include fact based reports by law enforcement officers, correctional officers, reports to the press or other media, juvenile facilities and courtrooms. There may be barriers for the officers at times, such as language, ineffective listening, a misunderstanding, or miscommunication. Whatever the reason, for one to communicate properly there must be the ability to understand, listen actively, ask questions when needed, and to speak clearly when asked to.
For law enforcement and others in the criminal justice system the need to recognize nonverbal communication is essential. An officer must be able to identify cues given by a suspect, or by an inmate in custody. The law enforcement official should always act and speak in a professional matter when facing the public or fellow workers and supervisors or administrators. He or she must remember that they represent not only themselves but the departments and states they reside in. Effective communication is the key to an effective organization such as the criminal justice system.