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Old April 3, 2008, 12:47 AM   #1
pfch1977
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Is using an aggressive tone of voice a good tactic for police officers?

I noticed that the California Highway Patrol makes it a policy to use an aggressive tone of voice with just about everyone they pull over. They are always using a sarcastic tone and their behavior at times is simply downright rude and unprofessional to motorists.

Is using an aggressive posture for every encounter, even minor traffic stops, a good tactic?

For example, if CHP Officer Smith pulls over John Doe and gives him a ticket then John faces stiff fines, penalties from his insurance carrier and maybe even a mandatory court appearance with an aggressive judge. Does it do the officer any good to use an aggressive posture with John adding insult to obvious financial injury?

My opinion is that the CHP is ruining the credibility of local officers with the use of such tactics. It also angers the populace and increases the chance of violence against other officers.
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Old April 3, 2008, 05:53 AM   #2
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It my understanding is that if you bump or hit their vehicles they go right to weapons and consider that it is a lethal force encounter. While in LA last year I watched footage from a traffic helicopter where a car that was stopped rolled back a few feet on a hill and tapped the patrol car. The LEO immediately drew his gun and fired on the car. I didn't think it should have gone to a shoot based on what I saw.

I think an aggressive tone should be used as the scenario dictates. A compliant subject should be treated as such and the less than cooperative should be handled with more direct instruction.
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Old April 3, 2008, 07:24 AM   #3
MLeake
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Aggressive tone...

.... results may vary.

Contrast in two police officer friends.

Both are soft-spoken by default, but can turn on the tone of voice if necessary.

One is very slightly built, and looks sort of like Ric Ocasek. One of the nicest guys you'd meet, but he has one of the highest rates of resisting arrest or assault on an officer in his department. He doesn't provoke people, but he doesn't look intimidating. B/G takes one look, thinks he has odds in his favor, and fails to realize he's dealing with a former state champion wrestler (145lb class) who is also the top shot in local department shooting competitions...

He might be better served by being more aggressive, earlier on. Hard to say.

The other officer is built like a bear, 6'2" and 240. Holds black belt rank in TKD and aikido. Country boy, worked ranches, fishing boats, etc. Very tough. Lowest rate of resisting arrest or assault on an officer in his department. He's arrested guys who ALWAYS resist without any trouble, by saying things like, "you know you'll be out in a few hours after you call your lawyer if you come in quietly, and I don't think either of us need to get hurt."

Low key works well for him.

Two cases don't make valid statistics. Anecdotally, though, if the officer is big and imposing, then speaking softly works just fine. If he isn't, then...

Cheers,

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Old April 3, 2008, 07:51 AM   #4
Spade Cooley
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The voice and demeanor should be flexable and change with the situation. During my 25 years in law enforcement, I believed in the friendly, business like approach during traffic stops of Citizens. I believed in allowing all parents to save face in front of children, not chewing them out in front of the kids but talking to them privately. Even when you must take them to jail, go easy because of the kids. Some of them will not allow it and insist on going the hard way. Laugh people to jail whenever you can. Its much easier than fighting and saves wear and tear on the uniform.

Using the same causual technique with a felon when you are alone and giving him/her a false sense of security while you wait on a back up is also a good idea. Make them think they are getting away with it and will be let go.

But I once arrested a bank robber in a bar while I was alone. The pistol was put to his head and I told him I would blow his F*&$#@* head off if he moved. He didn't. The voice should fit the situation and the intimidation factor you want to put across. Also remember that the uniform in itself is an intimidation factor and can ease or set off a person.
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Old April 3, 2008, 08:31 AM   #5
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The LEO on the initial encounter should be very agressive in order to control the situation. The message sent is "your in trouble, I'm in charge and Dpn't think about it".
The officer can easily "lighten up" as soon as it's determined this stop isn't going to present any danger. It's almost impossible to regain control if it wasn't there at the very beginning.
I don't blame the LEO's one bit. Traffic stops are scary.

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Old April 3, 2008, 10:46 AM   #6
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I live in CA (please, save the comments) and I have yet to have an encounter with the CHP where they were not polite and/or professional. I'm not saying you are wrong, only that to generalize about the field officers as a whole is unfair and inaccurate, at least from my experience. If I had to guess, it would be that they get more grief from motorists than the other way round. Just my $.02.
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Old April 3, 2008, 11:09 AM   #7
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Had an encounter with a CHP last year, I was speeding and he was professional and courteous and tone was moderate. (I did get out of it by letting my badge flip out when I was getting my Drivers lic, but that was after the intial approach)

Please quote your source.
Quote:
a policy to use an aggressive tone of voice with just about everyone they pull over.
. Have you seen thier policy or been involved with thier training?

Or is this just your opinion.
Quote:
They are always using a sarcastic tone and their behavior at times is simply downright rude and unprofessional to motorists.
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Old April 3, 2008, 11:14 AM   #8
The Tourist
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Not to me.

I've seen the best and worst in LEOs and FBI agents in my life. The bluff and bluster mean nothing to me.

For example, a cop who once arrested me was one of the most professional and polite officers I had ever met.

I was a collection manager for a local long-distance reseller a few years later, and part of my job was plant security. I wanted to consult with a professional who had "seen the elephant" and I went looking for a mentor. By that time my arresting officer had retired.

I hired him to act as my consultant.
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Old April 3, 2008, 11:16 AM   #9
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We were taught to be "civil" to all, "polite" to none. If you start out loud, you have no place to go after that except force. I would always speak softly enough that they had to pay attention to hear me. You can then escalate to volume, before force. If you appear confident enough that you don't have to start out agressive, folks usually realize who is really in charge. Sure, there are times where you know right away that you have a "problem" stop on your hands, but these are few and far between. Additionally, who the heck need civil complaints filed because you came on like gangbusters to some honest dude that was simply driving too fast.
Spade Cooley has it right.
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Old April 3, 2008, 11:49 AM   #10
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I don't think starting aggressive is necessarily good policy and my experiences (though long ago) have not indicated that is in fact the CHP's policy.

As a young man, I had more than one encounter with the CHP. Most officers acted professionally and courteously, without coming off as aggressive. I think for the most part, they'll treat you fine if you return the favor. When pulled over, turn the car off, roll down the window, place your hands on the steering wheel, wait for the officer to address you and don't argue, it won't help.

The "keep your hands on the steering wheel" part is important. I had a rookie CHP draw on me when I reached for my wallet as he was walking up to the car. I won't make that mistake again.

BTW: I have only been stopped once in the last 25 years.
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Old April 3, 2008, 11:57 AM   #11
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Voice and demeanour are the first stage in the continuum of force, and some officers use that as a "default" whenever they deal with anyone, because they think it'll head off anything physical before it gets to that point. Plenty of other officers think there's no reason whatsoever to be a dick unless the person you're dealing with gives you a reason to be a dick.
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Old April 3, 2008, 06:12 PM   #12
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I don't see where acting even more authoritarian and confrontational than usual will make a lot of difference in how things go during the 'interface' between cop and Citizen. Most folks fear and dislike the police anyway.
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Old April 3, 2008, 08:03 PM   #13
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When I first joined the force a "veteran" officer had these words of advice for us rookies. "On a traffic stop either take their money or their pride, but not both". Strange, I have spend a great deal of time studying my job and have never found anything that says one of my responsibilities is to take someones pride. (BTY, this officer later committed perjury in federal court and was forced to leave law enforcement for life. Personally I think he should have gone to prison.)

I believe in and instruct my officers to treat everyone one with as much dignity and respect as they allow you to. That said, a firm but professional initial contact establishes the officers position without antagonizing the citizen. How the contact goes from there is determined by the citizen's words and actions.

Needless to say that this suffices for the vast majority of situations but bear in mind that the officers initial demeanor will be very different for a high risk contact.
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Old April 3, 2008, 08:15 PM   #14
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Let me tell you a true story.

In my younger days I was assigned to work a two man drunk wagon in the skid row of a major city. We fought drunks on a daily basis. Some were cooperative and some were combatave. We performed our duties with no slack and in a very agressive manner. One day we decided to try an experiment. We would change our M/O and treat all the drunks with utmost dignity. When we would arrest one of them we would make a formal introduction of ourselves and assist the gentleman into the wagon. As we picked up more drunks we would have formal introductions with all the other winos in the wagon remembering all of their names. They loved it and we didn't have a fight all day.
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Old April 3, 2008, 10:05 PM   #15
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Cops are human just like anybody else and there's going to be a bad apple or two. Even the good ones can have a bad day. However, I have to say that while I have no experience with the CHP, I have had aquaintences with similiar things to say about the cops out this way. I tend to believe that in most cases when a particular person has unpleasent encounters with a large numbers of LEOs, that the problem likely isn't with the officers.
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Old April 3, 2008, 11:18 PM   #16
Erik
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"Is using an aggressive tone of voice a good tactic for police officers?"

Yes. Not using an aggressive tone of voice is another successful one. Somewhere in between is where most officers choose to pitch their initial contact dialogue.
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Old April 4, 2008, 02:53 AM   #17
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hmmmmm the few times I've been stopped by the CHP they have typically been cautious (one even put his hand on his revolver as he approached my car ... I was not real quick in stopping for his red light in his judgement), courtious, and calmly gave me a ticket. CHP officers might be overly cautious because of the 1970 loss of 4 officers concerning a traffic stop.

http://www.chp.ca.gov/html/newhall.html

I read quite frequently on these boards that it is better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6. Maybe CHP officers have a similar attitude. Why fault them for what is praised here ?
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Old April 4, 2008, 05:22 AM   #18
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if you come up to me and the first words out of your mouth ar in a tone that is not nessacary/required.......i am going to look down on you, look down on WHATEVER uniform you are wearing and when you leave i will make some remark about what an ass that guy was and i hope he does not reproduce because this world does not need any more like him, i am a human being, treat me like one, there is no need for aggressive behavior or a smartass tone unless i am provoking the situation......
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Old April 4, 2008, 08:39 AM   #19
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Spade Cooley,

I love that story. Simply brilliant!

I have been the source of law enforcement's tender affections more often than I care to admit. I have a couple of "horror" stories that were really nothing of the sort - just a cop putting the fear of God - and jail - into a snot-nosed punk running wild.

In my adult encounters, not all of them pleasant, the officers acted professionally and civilly - with the exception of one disgrace with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.

Even there, stop the s******ing, please, I met up with some really fine officers, including one who rapidly defused a rather ridiculous situation that could have gone very, very badly for me.

That officer, Robert Remington, was later murdered by a suspect while responding to a burglary of a business in Georgetown. Requiescat in pace.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/11171-of...bert-remington
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Old April 4, 2008, 09:21 AM   #20
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For me, it's a respect thing. If I deal with a police officer that is nice and friendly, I am friendly in return. But when an officer acts like an a**, and is condecending, they will get it right back in return.
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Old April 4, 2008, 12:11 PM   #21
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Quote:
Voice and demeanour are the first stage in the continuum of force, and some officers use that as a "default" whenever they deal with anyone, because they think it'll head off anything physical before it gets to that point. Plenty of other officers think there's no reason whatsoever to be a dick unless the person you're dealing with gives you a reason to be a dick.
I view an aggressive tone of voice as a minor escalation in the use of force continuum, and depending on the situation, we don't necessarily start out at the bottom of the continuum.

There are certain areas of the city where a "sir", "please" and "thank you" are both effective and appropriate. There are other areas where those terms would be viewed as a sign of weakness. "When in Rome", so to speak .

But when dealing with the average joe on a traffic stop, I see absolutely no reason to start out aggressively in any manor.

As far as effectiveness, however, it's been my experience that an aggressive tone of voice takes a back seat to a confident tone. An air of self-confidence usually makes a customer step back and think before doing something stupid, and it works with people from all walks of life.

We've all heard the phrase, "don't look like a victim". We probably should add to that, "don't sound like a victim, either".
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Old April 4, 2008, 12:32 PM   #22
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Aggressive tone? - probably not

I am not LEO but like most I have had a few encounters with some in the past. There have been very few instances where the LEO I have encountered have not been professional and, for the most part, respectful and polite....I have always appreciated and admired this in LEO. Even though I certainly do not appreciate someone acting agressively towards me for no apparent reason, in the case of LEO I will always try to be polite and respectful to them regardless of their individual demeanor. I figure anyone can have a bad day and I have no desire to make their day any worse. I work for the military and in my duties as well as my personal life I have traveled to a few foreign Countries and have witnessed some foreign Police activities...there is no doubt that our LEO are vastly superior in terms of how they treat and respect their fellow citizens, as it should be....as it must be!
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Old April 4, 2008, 12:44 PM   #23
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Quote:
The LEO on the initial encounter should be very agressive in order to control the situation. The message sent is "your in trouble, I'm in charge and Dpn't think about it".
The officer can easily "lighten up" as soon as it's determined this stop isn't going to present any danger. It's almost impossible to regain control if it wasn't there at the very beginning.
Absolutely backwards , one should start low key and escalate the force continuum as needed to keep control . Once you set a level of force you cannot go back down the ladder so to speak . An officer should be direct and courteous on contact , not loud and abusive . Spade said it best thusfar on the thread imho .
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Old April 4, 2008, 04:13 PM   #24
Erik
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Several definitions of aggressive:

"having or showing determination and energetic pursuit of your ends"
"assertive, bold, and energetic"
"vigorously energetic"
"boldly assertive and forward"

A police officer may be all of those things while acting appropriately.

There are other, inherently negative ones, of course.

The answers of some, and the difference between them, should be viewed through that prism.
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Old April 4, 2008, 04:23 PM   #25
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Quote:
Several definitions of aggressive:

"having or showing determination and energetic pursuit of your ends"
"assertive, bold, and energetic"
"vigorously energetic"
"boldly assertive and forward"

A police officer may be all of those things while acting appropriately.

There are other, inherently negative ones, of course.

The answers of some, and the difference between them, should be viewed through that prism.
Ok toto i am ready to go home now .....

Le should never be " aggressive " on an initial contact unless they are serving a court order ( warrant ) . Yes LE must be firm , Yes they must control the contact , this however does not mean a license to be an idiot at any time much less if one should be contacted for say a traffic violation or other minor infraction . IMHO its best to start out treating all with respect and only hand on a " tude " to the ones who make it necessary.
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