According to retired police captain Peter McDermott, one of the biggest problems in law enforcement is communication. To begin to rectify this problem, McDermott teamed up with Professor and Chair of the Counselor Education Department Diana Hulse to discuss the handbook, “Policing in the 21st Century,” at the Fairfield University Downtown Bookstore on Nov. 6.
According to McDermott, if a police officer can’t communicate effectively, it’s impossible for them to accomplish anything. Often times, police officers must converse with people who have a predisposed negative connotation of police officers, so they must learn to “overcome any barriers that have already been set up” in order to effectively handle the situation.
On top of that, police officers must learn how to effectively communicate with a variety of different age groups. McDermott brought up the fact that many police officers are young, and therefore conversing with the elderly is different and might present a challenge.
Through this lecture, McDermott and Hulse hoped to educate their audience on how to develop their interpersonal skills for these kinds of situations.
However, Hulse stressed the fact that the lecture wasn’t only for police officers.
“Our work is all about helping to train people in interpersonal skills. If people have a foundation in interpersonal skills, then they’ll be able to meet the responsibilities of communication at work, in the family, at school or anywhere,” Hulse said.
According to McDermott, anyone who wants to can improve their communication skills. “It’s not rocket science. It’s actually very simple,” he said.
He added that sometimes it’s as simple as the body language you use. “When I approach you and I’m smiling, there’s a perception that this is going to be OK. A frown would likewise give the opposite perception,” McDermott said.
In addition to providing advice on strengthening interpersonal skills, Hulse and McDermott also equipped their audience with skills for giving feedback in police training.
According to McDermott, their goal in addressing this topic was to show the audience “how to develop them [a recruit or young employee] without offending them.” He added that giving one criticism tends to have a negative connotation, so he prefers to use the term “development” instead.
The last chapter of the lecture was titled “Learning Skills for Facilitating Leadership Tasks”; Here, Hulse and McDermott discussed how to lead effective meetings so that the audience could “learn group dynamics and skills for managing people in a group,” Hulse said.
Hulse encourages people to check out “Policing in the 21st Century,” as “it has everything inside that people need to do the training and to learn the skills,” that were discussed at the lecture.