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Tactical Empathy: Getting inside the criminal mind

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I have often heard officers - both street and correctional - make the comment that it is not necessarily important to know what the person they are dealing with is thinking or motivated by.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Getting inside a criminal’s head is one of the most important tactical advantages that you can develop.
Dr. Thompson, from the Verbal Judo Institute refers to this intelligence gathering function as Tactical Empathy:

(AP photo)

Tactical Empathy refers to the active intelligence gathering of a professional investigator who is attempting to learn what a person is thinking in an attempt to learn how to generate his/her voluntary compliance, cooperation, and collaboration.

Developing Tactical Empathy not only allows an officer to remain physically safer from a possible assault, but also allows them to potentially control an individual’s behavior through understanding what motivates them.

The Greed Principle, another of Dr. Thompson’s concepts, explains that “if someone has something to gain or lose then you have something to use.”

The more you know about someone the more power you have. This is especially true for a corrections officer who is likely to spend extended time with an inmate in custody. The more you know, the less chance that you will be surprised by what the inmate does. Surprises are seldom pleasant in our environment.

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