FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Lynne Doucette

Lynne Doucette

Lt. Lynne D. Doucette is a patrol supervisor and defensive tactics trainer with the Brunswick (Maine) PD. Prior to being the first female promoted at BPD, she worked as an undercover detective assigned to the state narcotics task force.

Patricia Teinert

Patricia Teinert

Patricia A. Teinert has been a Texas peace officer since 1984. She has served as a patrol officer, investigator, and member of a juvenile gang and narcotics task force. She is currently a patrol officer with Katy ISD Police Department.
Women in Law Enforcement

Talking Them Down

Using words instead of the tools on a gun belt can effectively de-escalate a situation.

December 16, 2009  |  by Dina Zapalski - Also by this author

As an SWAT crisis negotiator in a very busy city for six years, I have seen our male negotiators and female negotiators do an outstanding job talking people down.

There have been situations where male officers talked a suspect down and I thought, if I was the one negotiating I probably would not have had the same impact. On the flip side, I have negotiated with suspects that did end up surrendering peacefully, I believe, because they were talking to a female.

I have had many experiences on patrol and SWAT call-outs where being a female definitely benefited in my negotiating with the suspect and eventually getting him to surrender peacefully or to do what I wanted him to do.

While working patrol, I stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation and found that the female driver had a No Bail warrant. When my assisting unit arrived, we got her out of the car, handcuffed her and placed her in the back seat of my vehicle. Unbeknownst to me, the traffic stop was in front of her family's house, and they started coming out to the front.

Soon after I placed the female in my vehicle, her husband, a very large (approximately 6-foot-5-inch, 350-pound) man came out of the vehicle and began yelling and walking toward my vehicle. My assisting unit immediately pulled out his baton, and I all I could think was, "No baton is going to work on this huge man."

So I whipped out my verbal skills to calm him down. He was obviously upset that his wife had just been handcuffed and put into a police car. I began talking to him in a calm tone and explained what we were doing, and that I needed him to stay away from our car and walk over to the sidewalk.

All the while, the other officer was yelling at him to get onto the sidewalk with his baton ready, so I kept one step in front of the other officer so the man could focus on my words, not the officer's yelling. I continued to repeatedly tell the man that he needed to remain calm for his wife and that we would figure everything out.

After what seemed like a long couple of minutes, I was able to calm him down, get him to walk over to the sidewalk away from our vehicle, and he then actually began to cry. The family standing in the front yard remained calm as well.

The main thing that kept running through my mind was that if we have to go "hands on" with him, then the family is going to be a major issue, because they were all very large people as well.

Luckily, my decision to use words instead of "tools" on my gun belt saved everyone a major incident and a potential use of force.

Be the first to comment on this story

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

Recharging Your Batteries: The Benefits of "Unplugging"
There is certainly benefit to being current on events involving the people you consider...
Speaking on the Unspeakable: Ending the Pandemic of Police Officer Suicide
I've talked with officers who have lost a colleague to suicide—as well as many widows of...

Police Magazine