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by Peter Moskos

June 28, 2011

Don't "Come Here!"

One cop I worked with would constantly get into foot pursuits. For the rest of us, it was kind of annoying, especially for those of us who hated running. What frustrated me was that these pursuits were entirely preventable. The problem was this officer would see a kid he wanted to stop and say, "Come here!" Naturally, not being a fool, the kid would take off running.

If I wanted to stop somebody, I would calmly walk right up to him and grab him. If I wanted to talk to someone, I would politely ask, "Can I talk to you for a second?" and lead him away from his friends. I can't remember these tactics ever failing.

Here is some good tactical police advice from, of all places, Mother Jones:
Consider why barking the command "Come here!" doesn't really work. Thompson explains in his article,

You have just warned the subject that he is in trouble. "Come here" means to you, "Over here, you are under my authority." But to the subject it means, "Go away—quickly!" The words are not tactical for they have provided a warning and possibly precipitated a chase that would not have been necessary had you, instead, walked casually in his direction and once close said, "Excuse me. Could I chat with [you] momentarily?" Notice this question is polite, professional, and calm.
And it works.


Batman said...

I was working with Catwoman in Manhattan earlier this month and here the story goes: Robin(a Sergeant) was running after a kid(don't know if he said "Come here", hey its loud in mid-town during the day, I know I know, Batman suppose to have superhuman ear, but let me continue with the story) while I kindly approached the other kid. I then asked the kid to present identification (a 13 or 14 y/o, I don't recall ;p), I had him sit down and soon Robin came back also with one under. Robin looked very satisfied while bitching why he can't have a Robinmobile.

PCM said...

Thanks for keeping the city safe, Batman. I know you've been getting a lot of bad press, but I don't believe anything I read in those liberal rags.

Marc said...

Verbal Judo should be a mandatory read at the academy.