Communication Barriers

Communication is the most effective way of conveying ideas and thoughts from one person to another.  This can be achieved through speech, gestures, and looks.  In todays changing times communication barriers are becoming ever more present.  The United States is growing fast in population which brings with it different cultures and ways of communication.  English is becoming a second language.  For law enforcement officials, this can become quite a hindrance when trying to perform the duties required of their job.
Law enforcement may encounter situations that make communicating virtually impossible.  This may be due in part to someone having a disability, hearing loss, speech impediment, or an inability to understand the language by which the officer is speaking.  In order to overcome these barriers, law enforcement officials must be willing to listen and learn.  Officers need to be mindful to show respect and be empathetic when trying to communicate with an individual.  Being patient and speaking slow are also effective reassurances that can be offered to the individual.  Avoid eye contact as to not intimidate the individual.  Slang should not be used.  Communication barriers can be remedied where differences in language are concerned when precincts offer foreign language courses to enhance the officers communication abilities.
When an officer is conducting an investigation, communication barriers make an already hectic situation seem worse.  Law enforcement officials can use other means of collecting information besides verbal speech.  Officers can listen to what the word is already on the streets.  Someone may pass a note or leave a voice message for the officer in charge.  A translator may be needed when interviewing someone who simply cannot communicate in English.  Gestures and sign language are other effective forms of communication.  An officer should never condemn an individual for their personal indifferences in communication.


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