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CJ 205 Module Three Practice Activity Template
Crafting Communications

To complete this template, replace the bracketed text with the relevant information.

Review each policing communication in the “Original Communication” column. For each communication, identify a communication mistake by copying text from the original communication and pasting it into the “Communication Mistake” column. Then, in the “New Communication” column, address the identified mistake by creating a new communication to address the identified mistake.

Number

Original Communication

Communication Mistake

New Communication

Example

An officer is negotiating with a suicidal subject. The officer tells the subject “Go ahead. You’re not going to do it anyway.”

“Go ahead. You’re not going to do it anyway.”

“I am Officer [name]. Can we talk about this?”

1

A patrol unit is dispatched after a 911 call in which a concerned citizen related she observed two Middle Eastern–looking males pull into a gas station and park in the rear of the building. They exited their vehicle and took out what appeared to be “rugs.” After the rugs were laid out, the men knelt on them and began kissing the ground. Officers observed the behavior upon arrival and approached the men to ask what they were doing. The men, who quickly became agitated, stated, “Couldn’t you hear us? We were only praying!” One officer then stated, “You’re speaking another language. For all I know you just said, ‘SEE THOSE OFFICERS OVER THERE? LET’S KILL THEM!’” The men now demand that a supervisor respond to the scene.

Officers saw the men’s behavior and went up to them to find out what they were up to. The males yelled, “Couldn’t you hear us?” as they became agitated. Our only purpose was to pray.

This is a whole other language,” one of the officers replied. ‘Did you see those officers over there?’ may have been a better answer. ‘WE’RE GOING TO KILL THEM!’

In Scenario-1, the responding police shown a lack of cultural awareness and/or sensitivity. Cross-cultural communication “roadblocks” like language barriers and cultural preconceptions should be avoided at all costs by law enforcement officers who are cognizant of the impact culture has on their work.

It seems that asking the men to explain what they were doing had irritated them, since their actions were obvious to them. If the responding officers had used more culturally acceptable language from the outset, maybe the issue might have been resolved quickly and without escalation. A better response would have been “good evening, fellas,” rather than “what are you doing?”. There is Officer [Name] here, and there is Officer [Name]. We noticed you getting out of your autos and kneeling down. Is everything in order?? Let me know what you need, please. It’d be helpful if I knew what it was I was looking at.

When I asked what you said, you answered, “See those cops over there?” the officer said. “You’re speaking another language.” A misinterpretation of “Let’s kill them” was very evident. “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you were saying,” may have been a better response. Could you perhaps translate what you were saying to me in English when we first arrived to help me better understand the situation?

2

Tweet from the director of the Chicago Police Office of Communication and News Affairs: “CPD investigating several incidents following fireworks at Navy Pier. Reports of a shooting are not accurate. A man punctured his leg after running into a table, 3 were stabbed following an altercation on the pier & 16 people are hospitalized after being trampled during the exit.”

“CPD investigating several incidents following fireworks at Navy Pier. Reports of a shooting are not accurate. A man punctured his leg after running into a table, 3 were stabbed following an altercation on the pier & 16 people are hospitalized after being trampled during the exit.”

In the original Scenario-2 statement, it is unclear if there is still cause for fear or danger near the Navy dock area to someone reading the post . Twitter has a character limit of 280. Twitter was not the ideal choice for this kind of communication, in my opinion, because of the many events and investigations that were referenced.

Due to the 280-character character restriction imposed by Twitter, the following alternative message may be sent using the microblogging service:

CPD received many complaints of disruptions in the Navy Pier area after the fireworks display. The CPD responded. There is now no danger to the public, according to officers on the scene. There are still reports to be looked upon. Keep an eye out for updates or contact CPD directly for further information.

3

Officers respond to a call of a stolen vehicle (license plate #CJ20500, black 2011 4-door Honda Civic). When they arrive, the female victim (Jane Doe) tells the officers that she got home from work at 5:15 p.m. and legally parked her vehicle directly in front of her apartment building located at 555 W. University St. When she went to leave for work the following morning around 7:00 a.m., the vehicle was gone. There are no witnesses. Their report simply states, “Mrs. Doe got home from work at 1715 hours and parked her car in the apartment. When she went to leave for work the next morning it was gone.”

Their report simply states, “Mrs. Doe got home from work at 1715 hours and parked her car in the apartment. When she went to leave for work the next morning it was gone.”

The data in the Scenario-3 analysis was at best hazy. The following is a suggested replacement for the unclear communication:

In response to a stolen vehicle allegation, I, OFC [Name], went to 555 W. University St. I arrived on the scene on [Date] at [Time] and talked with the victim/caller, Ms. Jane Doe. Ms. Doe has a black 2011 Honda Civic 4-door with the license plate #CJ20500, according to her. Ms. Doe said she drove the automobile home from work on [Date] and parked it legally in front of her apartment building, 555 W. University St., approximately 5:15 p.m. Ms. Doe also said that she left her apartment building at 7:00 a.m. on [date] with the intention of driving herself to work, but that her vehicle had been stolen. Officers on the scene inquired about Ms. Doe’s automobile being removed/transported from the place where she had parked it when she arrived home from work on [Date], but no witnesses were found.

4

A man in the process of transitioning from female to male was stabbed to death. His work ID card identifies him as a male with the name Evan Smith. However, the case report and subsequent press release, currently under review, use the man’s birth name (Angelina) and he is identified as a female victim.

The case report and subsequent press release, currently under review, use the man’s birth name (Angelina) and he is identified as a female victim.

It was a mistake and insensitive to the victim’s family and friends to identify the victim just by his birth name and gender.

It’s probable that in order to avoid Scenario-4’s communication problem, we could refer to the victim as Evan Smith and use male or gender-neutral pronouns in the case report and the recommended press release. A transgender connection to the stabbing may exist, thus the report should include information regarding Mr. Smith’s transition from female to male and his birth name (Angelina). In my view, the original press release should not have disclosed Mr. Smith’s transgender status. In my opinion, the victim’s family may regard this as an overemphasis on the victim’s transgender identity rather than the pursuit of justice for the victim

5

Jill Smith is female deputy who works for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. She informs her supervisor that a male inmate (John Q. Public), while awaiting the court transport bus, made a sexual advance directed at her. When she refused the advance, the male inmate then exposed himself. She asked to file a complaint against the inmate for harassment. The male supervisor refused to allow the complaint and stated, “You should take it as a compliment!”

The male supervisor refused to allow the complaint and stated, “You should take it as a complIment!”

The male supervisor indicated in Scenario-5 was incorrect in both his reluctance to allow the female deputy, Jill Smith, to make the complaint and his remark that she “should regard it as a compliment.” The following is a more suitable answer or message from the male boss:

Chief Warehousing, I sincerely apologize for the incident. I can only image how difficult that must have been for everyone involved. Formal complaints against John Q. Public must include a complaint form and a sworn statement in support of the claim. As soon as you complete the paperwork, please tell me so that we may begin processing your complaint immediately. The formal complaint mechanism is in place, but if there is anything further I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

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