Both forms of communication are critical to a well-functioning law enforcement agency. Verbal communication relies on language and a person’s emotion to send the desired message to other people. “It starts when officers greet one another before roll call and continues through roll call and out onto the streets” (Wallace & Robertson 2009). Officers must know how to communicate with people in the community, other officers, and their superiors. Important components of verbal communication include the word usage or the content of the communication.
An officer of the law needs to communicate with a victim, suspect, or another person on the level of that person. Language or education can hamper the understanding between an officer and a member of the community. Word usage, redundancy or repeating words from the officer will help a person receive the entire message if he or she is only half paying attention or do not understand some of the words. Also, if redundancy occurs while using radios, the officer may make the message clearer because of static or other interference.
Nonverbal communication entails written communication as well as body languages such as eye contact, posture, facial expressions, and jerky movements. Police reports are an important written immunization because prosecutors use them when issuing criminal complaints. Officers reread them to refresh their memory when testifying in court because the court dates are often months after the initial writing. Probation officers use them when deciding what punishment suits the person serving probation. Other nonverbal communication, body language, can tell an officer if a person is nervous.
Fifth person is nervous, he or she may be lying, and the officer can ask other questions to find out the truth. Therefore, verbal and nonverbal communication is imperative in law enforcement and should not be taken lightly. Listening and hearing in communication is also different. Hearing is the first step in the communication process. The ear picks up sound waves, transmitting them to the brain. Listening comes after hearing and to be proficient, must be an active process. The listener will evaluate the message then respond to the sender.
However, there are barriers to effective listening. An uninteresting or boring topic the listener does not want to hear. There may be a prejudice contrary to the speaker. Emotional involvement of an officer, such as excitement or stress, may interfere with the information process. Distractions from previous communications or the surrounding environment may make listening hard. A person has to concentrate on listening and use feedback or ask questions to make sure he or she understood the message. Often messages are fed down from the top person in command in any large organization.
Criminal justice organizations have formal and informal channels of communication. The channels are the process or ways by which information flows from the sender to the receiver. Formal channels usually follow the chain of command providing a sense of order and security in law enforcement agencies. Thus, reengaging all officers receive the identical information regarding the tenacity or content of the message. However, drawbacks are a given with excessive or exclusive use of formal channels. Strict rules to follow is a time and personnel consuming effort.
For example: To search a person’s house, first an officer must obtain a search warrant that takes time to go through the channels of communication. Evidence may disappear waiting on the warrant to arrive. The free flow of information by spontaneous ideas and thought can be restricted. A written record must be kept, and any change or modification will take time to correct. Informal channels like the grapevine, or departmental gossip, are the unofficial routes of delivering information to a law enforcement agency. Detectives approach parole officers for clarification Of an initial report.
When time is crucial, the officer can cut across lines Of authority and accountability to pass information faster. This information can prevent a killer from leaving the area and assist in catching the suspect. Information still needs to be clear and accurate no matter the channel in which it flows. There are five barriers; emotional, physical, semantic, ineffective listening, and listening to speed, which influence effective immunization within the criminal justice system. “Barriers to communication often arise when one party is concerned about personal or professional status” (p. 8 Wallace & Robertson 2009). Emotional barriers can hinder the sender or receiver because people often use their personal experiences when communicating with others. Fear of rejection keeps some people from commenting. Depression, psychological problems, and low self- esteem are emotional barriers. Physical barriers delay or hinder the flow of data. Distance, equipment mall-functions, and language are types of physical barriers. For example, a person speaking English with little knowledge of the Spanish language may ask directions and misconstrue the Spanish directions of two streets over to two houses down.
When two or more people disagree on the meaning of certain terms is a semantic barrier. If the receiver offers no feedback, the terms can translate differently than the sender intended them. Ineffective listening means failure on the receiver to understand what the sender is communicating. Most people do not realize they are poor listeners. For the listener, the subject may be boring, too difficult to understand, or he r she may be preoccupied with other problems. Failure to ignore the distractions and listen can be harmful to the justice system in several ways.
Important information may get transmitted poorly and not on time if an officer does not listen properly. Criminals may get off on a technicality of falsely transmitted information, whereas an innocent person may go to jail. It is very important in the justice system to be a good listener and transmit materials correctly. To overcome barriers of communication a person needs to concentrate on the sender, understand the message, evaluate the meaning f the message, and respond correctly. This can be done by knowing and following the five components of communication.