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Verbal Communication Skills for Police Officers

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Many occupations require excellent verbal communication skills to operate efficiently. Police officers rely on verbal skills as a matter of life and death. They need to be able to know not only what to say but also how to say it in order to diffuse problems and assist or protect citizens. The ability of the officer to say the right things in the right ways can make the difference between saving a life or losing one's own.

Orders from headquarters

Police officers give and receive orders from the dispatcher. They must be able to clearly communicate their location, their estimated time of arrival and other important information to dispatch. The dispatcher must be able to clearly communicate addresses, times, cross streets and road conditions for the officers in pursuit to arrive quickly and safely to the scene of the crime or crisis. Two-way verbal communication between the dispatcher and the police officer can be a matter of life and death in an emergency.

Officer to civilian

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When an officer speaks to a public citizen who needs to be instructed about official expectations verbal skills are highly important. The officer must determine if English is a language that the person understands and can reasonably be expected to respond to. Once this is established clear commands such as put your hands behind your back, don't move, hand me your registration, and walk in a straight line must be communicated clearly. If the first language is not English the officer should frequently ask if he is being understood. Reaching in the wrong direction or failing to comply promptly with a police order could result in physical force or even death.

Officer to Officer

Verbal communication between officers is very important to inform other officers of information that has already been learned at the scene of a crime. This saves time as help arrives to have the officers communicate sometimes by radio to gather all known facts and be able to take the investigation to a deeper level. Having incomplete or inaccurate facts could put other officers and civilians at risk in an emergency situation. Officers must speak clearly and efficiently using as few words as possible to communicate the essential facts.

Officers to Judge

Some officers are called into court to testify about criminal and civil cases. For justice to be served it is imperative that the officer present the facts clearly and precisely in court so that the judge and if applicable the jury can determine the validity of the evidence against the defendant. Public speaking skills help the officer give a credible and competent testimony in court.


Stephen Saylor is a bilingual educator and translator who has been writing since 2005. He has contributed articles to websites such as and XtremeMusic. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Michigan State University and a Master of Arts in education from San Diego State University.

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Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision/GettyImages