Your secret weapon: The Two most effective tools in Policing!

So you have applied to be an officer. Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? There is so much information out there…and worse, misinformation. With all this talk about martial arts, defensive tactics, guns, batons, what to say, what not to say…it can be overwhelming! Fear not, I am about to reveal never before heard secrets of the most powerful tools in policing! Okay maybe not never before heard, but at least underappreciated.

Let me tell you a story young Padawan…

When I was first hired in Corrections, I had a nightmare. Unlike most bad law enforcement dreams, this one didn’t have to do with a shooting or having someone shove a pointy object into my favorite chest cavity. In this dream, I WAS THE INMATE. In my dream I had some routine question to ask of the C/O. It was something simple, though I don’t remember what it was. Instead of listening to me the C/O was a complete asshole and treated me like a subhuman piece of shit. It sounds dumb, but I woke up feeling angry and frustrated. I came to a sudden and startling revelation…

Secret #1…

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It sounds simple…and really it is, but it is something I have tried to live by every day since. Of course I have my days like everyone else, but overall…I try NOT TO BE A DICK. This mantra is something that has served me well throughout my career. It isn’t your job as a cop to be a dick to people. If I am a dick, it is only as a tactical tool when being nice isn’t working. See my What did that Cop say to me? Post for examples. I frequently have suspects thank me for not being a dick and tell me, “You can arrest me any day.” Of course part of this is a tactic to gain compliance…but mostly I find it is just all around easier if I treat people with RESPECT. Crazy right!?

The other part of this applies to citizens as well. It is easy to become jaded about people’s problems. Especially when they are getting worked up over something that doesn’t seem like a very big deal. Remember, as a cop, you will see REAL problems and anything less starts to seem kind of trivial. Just remember though…just because they aren’t important to YOU doesn’t mean it isn’t important to whomever you are talking to. Take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes you really CAN’T help people or solve their problem. But you can at least make them feel HEARD.

Secret #2…

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Okay this sounds weird you say…Smile?? Seriously? Yup. This bit of advice was told to me by a wise old Sheriff one night. He told me it was the secret of his success. “Smile and wave at people” he said. The Sheriff advised he would smile and wave at everyone. He explained the citizens love it because they feel like you notice them and are looking out for them. The criminals hate it, because they think you know something about them. They will sometimes do crazy things right after you smile and wave at them, thus leading to a reason to stop and have a nice little social contact.

I decided to try this crazy bit of advice out…and what do you know? He was right! It ties into the not being a dick thing. But sometimes a well timed heartfelt smile can make someone’s day. Lets face it…people aren’t usually having a good day when they are contacted by law enforcement. At least present them a human face!

So…Now you know the secret! Don’t be a dick and go forth and smile!

Also published on Medium.

Author: Jaden Michael

Blogger, aspiring author and chronic smart-ass. Army veteran, former corrections officer, current law enforcement officer assigned to patrol.

Questions or Comments? Let me know here!