Working as a law enforcement officer is one of the riskiest jobs that anyone could take up. Committing yourself to serve and protect your community against all that would threaten to harm the peace and the public is a noble task, but one that requires nerves of steel. People often assume that law officers are supposed to be big, strong men who can subdue a criminal through their machismo and strength—but that’s not the only thing they need. Police officers come across all sorts of problems, daily, that require them to use their brains more than their brawns.
Possessing emotional intelligence is a crucial part of becoming a successful law enforcement officer—a basic requirement that extends to all employees in law enforcement. Whether you’re working as a court officer or as a police officer, the fact that you’ll have numerous interactions with other people demands that you know how to approach each interaction.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is quite a recent term that hadn’t been in much use outside of academic and healthcare circles for a long time after it was coined. Lately, with greater awareness considering the role emotional intelligence plays in everyday life, it’s come to light as a skill that no one should take lightly—especially law enforcement officers.
There are two basic aspects emotional intelligence:
- The ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions.
- The ability to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.
Right of the bat, it’s pretty easy to see why emotional intelligence might be important across a wide range of activities. Emotionally intelligent people are great at conflict resolution, rarely ever lose control over their emotions and always keep a cool head no matter what problems they come across. When you think of this in the context of law enforcement—a field that’s often violent, gruesome and tedious—having emotionally intelligent officers can significantly help the justice system.
Why is Emotional Intelligence Important in Enforcement
Emotional intelligence serves two purposes for law enforcement officers—it helps them serve the community better and helps them cope with the daily struggles of lives as officers. Police work isn’t easy—criminal investigations can turn ugly and the stress of constantly chasing down criminals takes a toll on everyone.
How Does Emotional Intelligence Help Officers Personally?
Suicide rates among police officers have some of the highest risks of suicides compared to all other occupations. This comes as no surprise considering the nature of the job and the sheer amount of effort involved in police work. The nature of the job requires law enforcement officers to deal with people who can commit the most awful of crimes, bring tedious concerns and even helping with disaster containment.
Witnessing these events unfolding in front of your eyes takes a toll on anyone’s psychological well-being—often turning into personal tragedies. Emotional intelligence can help law enforcement personnel cope with the psychological rigors of the job. The ability to recognize and process their emotions, knowing how it will affect their behavior and how to keep them in check creates a mental barrier against the more distasteful aspects of the job.
The Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Performance
By now, it’s safe to say that emotionally intelligent officers are much calmer and cool-headed compared those who might be lacking in the skill. If we take a closer look at the nature of the job, there are certain expectations of law enforcement officers, which can only be met if they understand their own and other’s emotions. Fundamentally, law enforcement personnel are a source of control within societies—they keep crime in check, resolve disagreements and ensure security throughout their communities.
A large part of the job involves guiding people through difficult times and constant interaction to resolve their problems. Emotionally intelligent individuals happen to be competent communicators, who are able to improve the outcomes of any interactions they might have. They do so without reverting to any form of violence or brute strength that might antagonize the person they’re interacting with. Officers who possess emotional intelligence can tell how people will react, understand their emotional state and can use this information to perform a better job.
Any officer who has these abilities has the potential to serve their communities in the best possible ways. Through their communication skills, sense of empathy and their calm demeanor, they can exert influence over people that can help create a better community. Whether it comes to interacting with criminals, victims or just helping someone out—an emotionally intelligent officer will always be more successful than one who is not.
Summing it up
Emotional intelligence is a basic skill that offers advantages across all occupations no matter what they are. When it comes to working in law enforcement, it becomes increasingly important because of the role law enforcement officers play in society. You, as an agent of the law are supposed to have a tight hold over any situation you’re presented with and navigate your way through complex human relationships to create the best possible outcomes. These things are only possible when you’ve worked on your emotional intelligence and can successfully use your skills to ensure swift delivery of justice.
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