How you develop and employ your
conflict resolution skills depends heavily
on your own personality.  I worked for
many years with an officer who I wouldn't
describe as having a very thoughtful
attitude toward others in conflict, but his
method for resolving conflicts was highly
successful.  This officer's voice was deep,
loud, and commanding.  No one could
ever shout over him, and he wasn't even
shouting.  He wasn't an overbearing
physical presence; although, he was fully
capable of backing up his commands with
physical force.  In fact, he rarely had to
use any type of physical force.  Having
watched him perform many times, I was
always amazed how quickly he could gain
total dominance over people in conflict.  I
finally came to the conclusion that the
secret to his success was the utter
self-confidence he exuded when he
exercised that dominance.  As successful
as this officer was at resolving conflicts,
his method resulted in a lot of stress for
his sergeant after the fact.  I never
worked with an officer who received so
many supervisor's complaints.  While the
complaints were numerous and
aggravating for the sergeant, they were
never serious... "mean" was usually the
operative word describing the officer's

While this officer's method of conflict
resolution worked well for him, it still had
a built in and regular negative side
effect.  You must also remember that
what works for one will not work for all.  
For instance, you'll see police officers
who'll attempt this dominance model with
little, if any, success.  Indeed, you'll work
with officers who'll create more turmoil
than they prevent.

As a police officer, you must always
dominate in every conflict.  How you
achieve your domination will go a long
way in limiting stress on everyone...
including yourself.  Starting with listening
is a safe and sure way to begin.
As a police officer, you'll be spending a
lot of your time trying to deal reasonably
with unreasonable people.  It's not an
easy thing to do at anytime throughout
your police career, so think about how
stressful it's going to be in the beginning
when you'll probably have very little
experience in dealing with simple conflicts
let alone potentially dangerous ones.

During your academy and field training,
you'll be exposed to conflict scenarios
and real conflicts respectively.  However,
the first will be classroom controlled, and
the latter will be controlled, to whatever
extent possible, by your Field Training
Officer.  Then, the day will come when
you'll be all alone and presented with
your own conflict for resolution.  You'll
learn quickly that human conflicts will
have similarities among them along with
their own unique aspects.  Each and
every conflict you encounter will be a
learning experience for you.  Conflict
resolution will always be a stressful
experience for you, so what you learn
from each of those experiences will go a
long way toward your ability to
understand, control and reduce stress on

You simply can't imagine how many
different types of conflicts you're going
to encounter as a police officer, but let's
take a look at one type of conflict you'll
encounter frequently... the domestic
disturbance.  Unlike the psychologist or
psychiatrist who counsels troubled
domestic partners or family members in a
mutually agreed session in a neutral and
controlled setting, you'll begin your
counseling sessions at the high point of
heated arguments in the environments
where the arguments begin.

You do have one distinct advantage over
the doctors.  You have handcuffs and the
power to use them; however, whenever
possible, you should employ the same
primary tool used by the professional
mental health counselor... listening.  
Quite often, your mere presence will
provide the controlling factor in a
previously uncontrolled environment, and
your thoughtful attention and directions
can allow the argument to de-escalate to
a manageable level.
"How you develop and employ your
conflict resolution skills depends
heavily on your own personality."
~ Barry M. Baker
I always have fun with this one.  
Whenever I refer to conflict resolution,
there's usually a little sarcasm present;
because, when conflict resolution is
associated with police officers, it always
manifests in its most politically correct
form.  In other words, your conflict
resolution skills should always trump
your need to use force to resolve
conflicts.  This is, of course, a naive view
which will be conveyed to you often by
people who have little, or no, real world
experience in resolving conflicts which can
pose potentially dangerous and
immediate consequences.

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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police
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