Interpersonal Skills Training for Law Enforcement




Ladd, Travis C.

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)


The foundation of the law enforcement profession is being able to communicate with others effectively. As the professional in the police-citizen contact, the officer must ensure no communication breakdown results in a loss of trust, use of force situation, or another negative impact on the police-citizen relationship. An officer’s interpersonal skills are the most important tool at their disposal to navigate the interaction successfully. Law enforcement agencies should place an increased emphasis on academy training, and continuing education focused on developing officer’s interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills have not received instructional attention when compared to legal topics and “hard skills.” Officers utilize their communication skills significantly more than they use force on individuals. The amount of focus on being proficient at interpersonal communication should be increased to improve public perception and trust, minimize the chances of police-citizen interactions requiring a use of force, and advance leadership capabilities. It is also important to increase this focus to help overcome deficiencies that members of the younger generation have due to their development in such a technologically connected society. Law enforcement administrators need to look over professions for ideas on how to successfully improve interpersonal skills through training. Adding a curriculum that focuses on interpersonal skill development in police academies and continuing development courses should be one of the first steps. Utilizing other training courses and opportunities to give officers opportunities to interact, debate, discuss, and develop communication abilities is another key.



Police Communication, Police-Community Relations, Conflict Management, Police Training