The police often communicate to people from diverse backgrounds, preconceptions and attitudes (Thurman, & Zhao, 2004). The police often face a challenge when communication to the people and this could be attributed to many factors. Sometimes the police are required to communicate to people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The use of drugs or alcohol causes mood swings, disorientation and even passing out. Due to the effects associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs, the police have a challenge in communicating with individuals under drugs or alcohol and difficulty of attaining possible outcome.
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The police often serve communities with diverse culture, beliefs and values (Thurman, & Zhao, 2004). Sometimes a police officer can be posted to serve in a community, whose values, beliefs and culture are different from the one of the police officer. The variations in culture, beliefs and values can cause a barrier in communication for example the differences in languages or dialects. Moreover, the differences in values, culture and beliefs can be a source of misunderstanding, which hampers effective communication by creating confusion.
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Sometimes the police officers can misuse their power while exercising their duties (Du, 2004). Since the police officers have the power to arrest individuals who have been suspected to breach the law, if such police officers abuse their powers, for example through threats, intimidation or belittling people, such people may get scared, upset and confused. When people lose their cool, they may not be able to communicate well and thus leading to ineffective communication with the police officers. Finally, when police officers make assumptions about other people, they can cause poor communication with such individuals. For example, if a police officer views those who breach law as troublemakers, such a view on a first time offender may hurt them; make them lack confidence thus hampering communication.
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What Police Officers can Do to Reduce Communication Barriers
According to (Shah, Rahman, & Khashu, 2007), police officers cannot perform well if they cannot attain effective communication with the people they serve. One way of breaking the communication barriers is for the police officers to have comprehensive knowledge about the population that they serve. This entails knowledge in the changes in demographics of communities and the languages. One they police officers develops an understanding of the language of the people they serve, they can allocate appropriate resources for their services. For example, if they serve non-speakers of English, the police officers can employ translators or interpreters. Moreover, the police officers could learn the language of the people they serve in order to bridge language barriers.
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The police can overcome the barriers that result from abuse of powers by developing understanding of what is wrong and right in how to treat other individuals without bringing their power into the situation (Shah, Rahman, & Khashu, 2007). An example is learning ways of making arrests without use of force. Strategies such as polite arrest requests and giving full information can calm individuals and facilitate communication. Giving people chance to talk without judging them and allowing them to talk with what the police officers believe helps in overcoming the communication barriers associated with making assumptions and those associated with beliefs and values. For example, appreciating the differences in values and accepting to be addressed under the unique religious or cultural values by those being served can enhance communication between the police officers and the people they serve.
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