Ideally, hiring off-duty police services should be a simple process: You contract the officers, they arrive, and the job goes without a hitch. Chances are that you're working with off-duty police in the first place because there's the potential for things to go wrong. Fortunately, this is where professional training really shines through. Police distinguish themselves by bringing their skills to situations even when not "officially" on-duty.
To get a better idea of how police make a difference, let's take a step-by-step look at how officers can handle potential conflicts. While security guards can work with police officers onsite, the latter have far more expertise and ability when it comes to dealing with trouble.
Before anyone even says a word, a police officer can already be thinking about whether someone poses a threat. A 2008 PoliceOne article mentioned an understanding of personal space as one of the most fundamental parts of dealing with conflicts.
"While security guards can work with police officers onsite, the latter have far more expertise and ability."
Known as "proxemics," this refers to the way different levels of space relate to interactions. According to this source, police can use the amount of inches between people to judge when someone is encroaching personal space. In this case, an "intimate" space is considered as falling between 6 and 18 inches, while a "public" space can be 12 feet or above.
Understanding and communicating is a key element of policing, and it can be a major advantage in an escalated situation. This is especially clear compared to security guards, who will most likely try to avoid engaging with anyone and report any potential dangers as necessary. Police officers, on the other hand, can be ready for a variety of different conflicts and also take appropriate action to keep things in control.
What are some of the communication tactics police can use? Both the PoliceOne article and this Law Officer piece cover some of the same elements:
- Respectful listening: Police can start by hearing out complaints or issues and establishing base empathy.
- Tone control: The way someone in authority speaks can matter. Sometimes, hearing a police officer speak kindly to them can be enough to persuade someone to stand down. Even when an aggressor is angry or upset, the officer can help maintain peace by refusing to stoop to their level.
- Valuing input: When a person feels that their needs have been heard, they may be less likely to oppose the officer and could return to normal. There are several ways police can show citizens that they are being taken seriously, from affirmative statements to encouraging body language. Taking notes can also show the other person that their comments will be recorded and that the officer is paying attention. Above all, staying engaged and making it clear that they care is crucial to de-escalating conflict.
It can take training to be able to stay calm under pressure. Again, police can incorporate their understandings of communication into off-duty activities, using judgment that security personnel aren't likely to have.
"Police can incorporate their understandings of communication into off-duty activities."
Use of Force
Finally, we get to the role of action in police conflict. Just as there are many different ways to communicate, there are different levels of force police can use depending on the situation. The National Institute of Justice listed a "Use-of-Force Continuum" that police agencies across the country may use as a basic model.
When it comes to physical response, officer actions can range from "empty-hand" controls such as grabs and locks to "harder" techniques involving punches, blunt impact or more extreme forms of force if a subject poses a lethal threat.
These are at the far end of the spectrum for a reason, and only come after other techniques such as verbal force, including both non-threatening requests and more urgent commands. The source said that the best case scenario won't require force at all, with an officer's presence doing enough to deter action.
Frizell Group can help you learn more about off-duty law enforcement personnel and the many reasons why retaining such officers through Frizell Group is a good idea. Contact us today.