Chief’s Corner

The ‘Language of the Street’ Fallacy

By Chief Harry P. Dolan (Ret.) & Richard R. Johnson, Ph. D.

In our Surviving Verbal Conflict® and Winning Back Your Community courses we caution law enforcement officers to avoid using what is called the ‘language of the street.’ The language of the street refers to profanity and other abrasive language often used by the criminal element in some neighborhoods. While most officers agree that using this language when communicating with the public is inappropriate, some officers (and even some supervisory personnel) have challenged us on this issue. These individuals argue that people in impoverished, high-crime areas tend not to understand any other type of language, and that using profanity and other coarse language is a way to establish authority when dealing with people in particular areas.

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Verbal Contact and Cover Protecting Your Colleagues and Your Profession

By Chief Harry P. Dolan

Far too often today, I believe, police officers are being ‘rope-a-doped’ by manipulative people out on the street. Taken from the tactic famously employed by boxing legend Muhammad Ali, the ‘rope-a-dope’ is when a challenging or manipulative person says things that are intentionally crafted to get under your skin, make you angry, and get you to act unprofessionally. YouTube© is filled with videos of officers who have fallen prey to the rope-a-dope by a citizen who has taunted the officer into acting like a dope. Individuals and organized groups with anti-police agendas are actively trying to entice officers to act inappropriately so that they can catch the officer’s reaction on video and become the next viral video sensation.

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The 24-Hour Rule

By Chief Harry P. Dolan (ret.)

Information delivered in the midst of a crisis is often inaccurate. It has been my experience that the first wave of information, gathered in a hurried or excited manner, always contains some inaccuracies. Sometimes, as public safety leaders, we have no choice but to make quick decisions based on incomplete information when dealing with emergency situations. The majority of the decision-making situations we encounter, however, are not crisis situations requiring an immediate response. In most of the decisions we make about operations, personnel, and policy matters, there is time to gather more information, think about our options, and even engage in debate.

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Don’t Get “Rope-A-Doped”!

By Chief Harry P. Dolan (Ret.)

Boxing champion Muhammad Ali recently passed away and as I was growing up I admired him as a boxer. Besides being a talented athlete, Ali was a master at using psychology against his opponents. One of his most successful psychological tricks was what he called the “rope-a-dope.” The rope-a-dope technique was primarily focused on getting his opponent to “lose his cool.”

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Developing Organizational Performance Leadership