Cell stops: Best practice for making initial contact
Last week, I had the privilege to teach a Tactical Communication for the Correctional Professional Instructor Class at the Idaho Department of Corrections in Boise, Idaho. Since the Idaho DOC has been using Verbal Judo® at their facilities for years, this was both a recertification class for existing instructors and basic instructor class for new instructors.
The class was made up of experienced correctional professionals that represented mid-level managers and first line supervisors, as well as line staff members. This made it possible to take the class to a level not possible with a less experienced class.
Several innovations were made in the class that will be used in future training programs. One of these innovations was the modification of the traditional Tactical 8 Step Tactic that is used for making initial contact with subjects who are often unknown to the officer. This tactic was initially developed years ago by Dr. George Thompson of the Verbal Judo Institute for initiating traffic stops and looks like this.
Unfortunately, correctional personnel don't make a lot of traffic stops. Since they make cell stops, it makes sense to modify this tactic to take in the realities of the correctional experience. It should be noted that these changes work well for all police, correctional, and security officers who often time know their audiences and are known by them.
This modified Tactical 8 Step Tactics looks like this and can be used whether you know your contact and/or if the contact knows you. It looks like this:
This is how you use this modified tactic:
Example: "Good morning, Mr. Jones."
Example: "I am Officer Jones, the Transport Officer." This would legitimize the offier's contact since the inmate has to go to court today.
Example: "The reason I am here is to conduct a daily cell inspection that we conduct every day at this time." Notice the "daily" cell inspections that we conduct "every" day at this time. Whenever possible or, if asked, answer questions in advance that could deal with accusations that you are picking on someone or dealing with them differently. Inquiring minds want to know – let them know first and save questions and not have to deal with negative energy later.
Example: "Is there any justifiable reason that you didn’t take your medication when the nurse first issued it to you?" Although you may not be able to think of one, there may be a reason. If there is a justifiable reason, you want to know it before you get in an argument over the hoarded medication.
Example: "Since I am new to this unit, I don’t think that we have met before, may I ask your name and could I see you ID wrist band?" Notice that you request (ask) for him to identify himself and to show you his ID wrist band. Start out with a request because it makes cooperation for the subject easier. You can always go to commands later but the light touch does help to "generate voluntary compliance."
The instructor / student interaction in this class made it possible to further clarify just how the correctional (institutional) environment requires a modification of the traditional police traffic stop based Tactical 8 Step Pattern.
Our thanks to the Idaho Department of Corrections for helping the Verbal Judo Institute better serve its correctional and institutional professionals.
For more information about the Verbal Judo Institute’s Tactical Communication for the Correctional Professional Training Program access www.VerbalJudo.com
Also, check out this ASLET article on Verbal Judo.
Gary has been involved for over fifteen years in the development of both training & duty trauma protective equipment. He is currently employed by PoliceOne.com as a Use-of-Force subject matter expert, researcher, program developer, and training specialist where he continues to provide tactical communication skills and defensive tactics training. His collaboration with the Force Science Research Center, Team One Network, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Verbal Judo Institute, and Purposeful Development Associates allows him to bring the most current tactical and instructional insights into his training programs. He is the lead instructor for Verbal Judo's Tactical Communication for the Correctional Professional training program.
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