by Ian D Scofield
Everyone swears, whether you are a regular citizen or a police officer. The key is where and how you do it. Profanity and policing can be a hot topic because it gives off a bad image. At the same time, it has also become police culture. Today we are going to discuss policing and profanity and whether or not they mix.
Most police departments do not have specific policies against their officers swearing. Some don’t even advise against it. This is something that could be a problem. Swearing in policing can create more problems than it will fix.
If you are chasing a subject and you swear at them, you might actually be escalating them. The founder of Verbal Judo, Dr. George Thompson, has stated that swearing at subjects should never be done. It is not part of the good communication process.
By agitating a subject, the argument could be made that you are encouraging the need for a higher level of force. Something that can leave both yourself and your department open to liability.
Even if swearing isn’t prohibited by your department, that doesn’t mean people don’t notice when you swear. If a superior takes note of your swearing and does not like it, it could affect you when it comes time for a promotion board. This all depends on the superior and the culture of your department, but in most cases, senior members of departments are looking to better the image of their departments in the public’s eye.
Use of profanity can appear as if you are using excessive force in itself. Remember, that the public does not have the same training and experience that you have. To them, they won’t know the difference in what you are doing and swearing brings with it a negative connotation.
Thinking about it, most career tracks don’t allow you to swear at work. For example, if you are a salesperson, and you swear at a customer, you will be certainly be in trouble. Why should it be different for other careers?
This isn’t to say that profanity isn’t sometimes needed. Profanity can serve as a way for officers to de-escalate themselves. But this should be done under their breath or after a situation to prevent escalating others.
At the same time, some subjects respond well to swearing. Knowing when to swear and when not to swear is one of the skills that you will learn from experience. It is important to remember that every situation is different.
Many officers have grown to be fans of swearing so hearing that swearing doesn’t belong in the workplace in most situations might strike them as a negative. However, research has shown that those who swear are viewed by the public as less professional and less competent. As a police officer you need to be viewed as competent and professional in order to earn the respect of the public.
Swearing in the station house and when off-duty is still acceptable but know that it can still affect you professionally. Plus the more that you swear, the more likely that it will accidently slip out when you are in the field.
Take this to mind and think twice before you swear in the future. There are alternatives for stress relief that we have discussed in the past. Research is going into policing and profanity and already has. So far it has found that in most situations cussing is not appropriate and can detract from the effectiveness of verbal commands. As always, stay safe out there.
About The Author:
Ian is a staff writer at APTI and hospital security officer at a major medical center who has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice. He has held multiple positions in the security industry from patrol supervisor to auxiliary public safety officer. At APTI he brings his writing skills to help further the careers of others and provide quality content. Feel free to visit his freelancing site or his creative writing site.
Did you just get a job as a law enforcement officer or are you trying to get one?
Law enforcement is a very rewarding career, one that can enhance your life and benefit you greatly. Preparing for a job in law enforcement shares some similarities to other careers. At the same time it has unique challenges to overcome.
Let’s take a moment to examine how you can prepare for a job as a law enforcement officer.