Corrupt cops are a sad reality of the law enforcement agencies in the United States, with thousands of officers dismissed or forced to leave the NYPD over the past few years. But most officers on the force are exceptional individuals with solid training and passionate about serving their communities.
These individuals can be identified with their character traits and qualities such as professionalism, bravery, strong ethics, and a deep respect and knowledge of laws. Great police officers are distinguished from average ones because they possess some surprising and over-looked qualities that are essential for every cop in the United States.
Here are five key qualities that lift an average or good cop into a great one:
The importance of communication skills cannot be stressed enough for police officers. When we talk about communication skills, we don’t just mean the ability to form coherent sentences and express yourself. A police officer must also be proficient in written skills to create proper reports of various incidents, use correct wording to define situations that can be used in courts, and have extensive knowledge of grammar. During court proceedings, police officers must be very exact to prevent testimonies and important descriptions from getting thrown out of court. The coherency of the police report has a significant impact on the case.
Another essential aspect of communication skills is listening. A good police officer must have the patience and fortitude to listen to what people are saying to get a better picture of the situation. An officer who is willing to listen to the citizens makes them feel like the police truly care, and they will be more likely to cooperate.
Empathy and Compassion
Many police officers think it is best to remain objective when dealing with a suspect or a troubled citizen to seem more professional. While the instinct to detach oneself from a difficult situation is natural, sometimes it comes across as too cold. People usually don’t feel comfortable giving information to such officers.
The ability to show compassion and empathy towards people you are dealing with as a law enforcement officer can come handy on the job. Officers who are willing to show that they care about building a rapport with the citizens inspire more confidence in the law enforcement agencies and encourage the public to cooperate.
However, there needs to be a fine balance between showing a little bit of compassion and too much empathy. Officers who become too involved can often find themselves struggling with the harsh realities of working for law enforcement and find it hard to cope with the mental impact of such situations.
Integrity and Transparency
Integrity is one of the fundamental character traits of a good officer and might even be the most important. It is also a key factor that encourages public trust and boosts the confidence of the general public in their law enforcement officers. It is important to always go above and beyond in your regular course of duties without expecting rewards or recognition. It is also important to actively investigate and engage in the community to get to the bottom of every case.
While it might be easier to go with the easiest options and minimize the risks for the department, that won’t inspire trust from the citizens. Integrity and transparency are often tested during routine traffic stops. The officer must be completely open about the reasons behind stopping and questioning the individual to reassure them and get their cooperation.
Superior Negotiation Skills
The ability to convince others to act appropriately and talk your way through a situation is a prized quality among law enforcement officers. It is easy to overreact and have a physical response to a difficult situation. But it takes an officer with superior negotiation skills to find solutions and remain calm in a volatile situation. Effective negotiation skills also include active listening, expressing empathy where appropriate, remaining non-judgmental, treating suspects with respect, and referring to them by their name whenever possible. Don’t make promises you can’t keep or be confrontational or demanding. Failing to listen and being judgmental only results in escalates situations to disastrous proportions.
Willing to Learn and Grow
Maintaining a I know it all attitude can be detrimental for police officers in terms of their career and their ability to build relationships with community members. A good police officer must be naturally curious and willing to expand their knowledge and abilities. Keeping an open mind and an eager attitude allows officers to make a sizeable impact in the department and the community. Expectations for police officers are quite high, and only an officer who is committed to learning and upgrading their skillset can avoid disappointing the department and the citizens.
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