Communication involves transferring information from one individual to another. Communication involves a sender, receiver, and a message. Communication is a mental exercise that needs to be mastered and when accomplished, it benefits both the sender and receiver. In the field of law enforcement, proper communication is especially critical in all types, and channels regardless of barriers. Communication plays an important role both personally and professionally.
Verbal and Nonverbal Communication
In law enforcement proper communication is critical for both the sender and the receiver. Communication in law enforcement can be written or oral. Written communication takes place when the sender writes a message to the receiver. According to Wallace & Robertson (2009), written communication skills are required for law officers to fill out various police reports, draft narrative summaries, and understand written policy directives. Officers must be able to read, write, and understand what is written. One of the main problems with written communication is that is does not always allow for instant feedback. Another form of communication for law enforcement officers is oral. Effective oral communication is the foundation for effective written communication; these skills are intertwined and depend on each other. Oral communication is the process of one individual sharing information with another individual by speaking the idea or thoughts. Unlike written communication, oral communication is interactive and allows for almost instant feedback, which clarifies any misunderstanding. Both oral and written communication must be mastered and repetitive for an officer to be effective and concise. The ability to effectively speak or write does not eliminate the necessity to master both skills. Listening and Hearing
Listening and hearing are two additional skills that like oral and written communication must be practiced and mastered in order to achieve effective communication. The primary purpose of communication is the exchange of information and if the receiver is not listening or hearing the information, the message can de distorted or lost completely. An example of this would be that one officer might say to another “I will search the house, you take the back”. In this example if the listening officer did not understand or listen to their partner the situation could quickly become life threatening. It is important that both the sender and receiver are listening and hearing. According to Wallace & Robertson (2009), hearing is not necessarily understanding and talking is not necessarily communicating. Formal and Informal Channels
The exchange of information occurs both formally and informally, which are the two communication channels or directions used in any organization. Channels of information refer to the methods or avenues by which information is shared between two of more individuals. Direction of information indicates the way in which communication flows. An example of a formal channel of information within a police department would be the chain of command. Like many organizations the chain of command involves formal orders, directives, and written memorandums. Formal communication has many advantages and disadvantages; advantages include uniformity, clear and concise messages, less confusion, and a paper trail for the purpose of court hearings. Disadvantages include strict adherence which can be time consuming, lack of free flow of information and formal routes usually require a written records that can cause hesitation. Regardless of the disadvantages, formal communication provides order and security to a police organization that are critical. Informal channels of communication are just as valuable to the operation of a police department as formal channels and provide a needed link within the organization. According to...
References: Wallace, H., & Roberson, C. (2009). Written and interpersonal communication: Methods for law enforcement (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
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