Police officers gather to work on communication tactics

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) Officers from across the state got a lesson in how their words can calm situations on Friday.

"Just how important is this? What's the public interest? Am I getting rope-a-doped?" says lead speaker and retired North Carolina Police Chief, Harry Dolan.

Dolan says the best thing to do on the job, is not let the other person control the situation. Don't let them anger you.

"If you see a peer, at work or home, a partner at home, coming off their game, getting over-invested in the discussion, their voice is raising, they're taking things personal. I want you to be trained to overcome bystander effect and group think, and move, act," says Dolan.

He says verbal de-escalation is crucial as a police officer, but can be used in any part of life.

His students say they're going to take the lessons back to their home departments.

"Slow down. There's no rush. We know what the outcome is going to be one way or the other, so just slow down and take your time," says Sgt. Joseph Devivo of the Chesterfield Co. Police Department.

With police relations an issue across the country, officers say it's more important than ever to do a great job.

"We are doing the best we can to train our officers so we can present the best front for the public, and do the best job we can for the public," says Devivo.

Dolan doesn't think use of force is the issue.

"Lethal force, by police officers, compared to the injuries they confront, we could not make an argument and no one should that police use of lethal force is out of control, because it's not," he says.

It's communication.

"Now, let's make sure we're communicating as professionally as we can and we're going to take this profession to the next level," says Dolan.

The training included officers from Danville, Roanoke, and civilian officers.

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