Active Listening: A Peace Officer’s Best Tool




Neal, Jeffery K.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



The law enforcement community has become very proficient over the years at training peace officers to be tactically sound in both their mental and physical approach to all situations up to and including the use of deadly force. While focusing on this necessary aspect of the profession, another area has suffered and lagged behind. Police officers patrolling the streets today receive very little, if any, training on how to communicate with the people they encounter under these same circumstances. Most of the knowledge officers acquire to improve their communication skills are learned by trial and error while they muddle their way through the calls they respond to. It is imperative for law enforcement agencies to find a way to equip their officers with the verbal skill set they need. This is why all law enforcement officers should be taught active listening skills. Active listening not only gives peace officers a valuable new tool to communicate with, but it also allows them an insight into their own thought process and how to better regulate it. One of the most influential things a person can acquire is how to control thoughts and emotions. This is where most positive dialogue begins, and when communicating under highly stressful circumstances, it will keep a person from further deteriorating the situation (Goulston, 2010). Expanding police officers’ communication skills to include active listening should benefit police agencies by decreasing their number of use of force incidents, helping resolve crisis situations and reducing their number of complaints. There is not a police administrator in the United States of America who does not desire these outcomes.


Negotiation, Crisis management, Police questioning, Interviewing in law enforcement