Juliet Lima - The Answer to Why We Train
When I became a police officer in February 1998, like all new recruits, I was sent to the police academy. There I learned the basic skills all police officers at the time had to have. I learned how to shoot, how to defend myself, how to drive safely at high speeds, and how put people in jail. I could not have been more excited. My lifelong dream of becoming a cop was coming true. After the academy I reported to field training with a twinkle in my eye and a that “I’m here to save the world” attitude so common in rookie cops. I’ll never forget the senior officers chuckling as I walked in to that first roll call.
Fast forward nearly 23 years and I may not have that same twinkle in my eye, but I still love the job. While we may not be saving the world, each cop who puts the uniform on and goes to work makes a lasting impression on the people they serve. What kind of impression is up to the individual officer, their attitude, and their ability to respect the people they serve.
For most of my career I prided myself on being able to talk to anyone about anything. It wasn’t until I became a negotiator that I realized I was all wrong. Sure, the ability to talk to others is important. But truly listening is a skill that all officers should have. Once that switched clicked in my head, I knew I had to develop a way to teach complex negotiation skills to patrol officers in one to two days.
I knew what I wanted to do, but something was missing. That something turned out to how significant a role emotional intelligence plays in being a good police officer. In short, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, which helps you understand and manage the emotions of others. Cops are constantly tasked with managing other people’s emotions, particularly those emotions at the far end of the spectrum.
It’s been 23 years since I went to the police academy. In all that time we still focus on training officers to shoot, fight, and drive fast. Those skills are still vitally important. But the ability to listen to others and manage their emotions are skills we need to add to our tool belt.
This training program is designed to help increase public satisfaction, reduce complaints, help officers survive their career, and help improve supervisor skills for current and future police leaders. It is geared towards all officers and supervisors who serve in a patrol capacity as well as the command staff responsible for patrol operations.