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the more functional side of that person emerges and a
reasonable resolution can be realized. The graph above demonstrates that whenever emotions are high, rationality and
logic are low.
The officer must not take anger or aggression personally.
When an irate citizen is yelling or screaming at an officer, it is
not directed at the man or woman wearing the uniform, but
rather at the uniform itself. The uniform is the most immediate representation of authority available at the moment. It is
not personal, as the officer does not know that irate citizen
and the irate citizen does not know the officer. It is important
to not meet anger with anger. People will feel more aligned to
the officer if they feel that they are being heard and understood. By demonstrating empathy, the officer is assigning a
level of importance to what that person might be feeling; it
also gives the officer some context as to what is happening
with that person.
Using Empathy. Empathy, the ability to identify with and
understand another’s emotion, does not mean that you
necessarily agree with that person, but that you are able
to understand the emotion that they are experiencing. In
utilizing empathy properly, the officer should always give
special attention to matters of importance, whether or not it
is important to the officer. If an issue is important to someone, then it is important, and it deserves that level of respect.
Embracing Difficult Encounters. The video reminds police
officers that people do not call the police when things are
going well, so the police usually encounter a citizen during a
time of crisis when emotion is ruling the moment. We should
look to embrace those difficult encounters, as they ultimately
become our greatest teachers. They teach us the strategies
to manage future difficult encounters by drawing upon prior
experiences and revisiting what has been successful. Usually, we derive our most powerful life-lessons from the most
Results. The “Smart Policing” program was administered
to all members who work on patrol and who are the first
responders to all street encounters. An overwhelming number of participants met the program with resounding high
praise. The Department is still in the process of evaluating
the correlation between this training and declining numbers
of civilian complaints. It was an important first step in building
greater ties between the police and the community. And, oh,
about me: Yes, I finally did retire shortly after my collaboration