New Course to Focus on Police Communication

Nicole Rivera, Contributing Writer

In Fall 2018, the Department of Communication, Film and Media Studies is launching a 3 credit special topics class called COMM 4454: Communication for Policing. COMM 4454 will offer a unique opportunity to develop specific communication skills needed for a career in law enforcement. Diane Smith, a professor within the Communication Department, came up with the idea of a police specific communication class to enhance the student experience at the University of New Haven.

It was decided to build a course in policing communications because every day, the 700,000 police officers of the United States use communication as a tool to interact with their communities.

Professor Dawn Cathey, has more than a decade teaching college-level courses in Communication, Sociology, Inquiry and Critical Thinking. She was also a New Haven police officer from 191 through 1997 attaining the rank of Patrol Sergeant. She is looking forward to combining her teaching, law enforcement and social work experience to offer students a valuable, educational and useful classroom experience to help them succeed in and out of their field.

Cathey said, “I am looking forward to creating opportunities for students to develop and strengthen their own unique ability to use communication as a valuable tool to connect with people, personally and professionally.”

Cathey is deeply committed to facilitating the best possible learning environment, with consideration for an appreciation of the diversity of University of New Haven students in the classroom.

In this course students will learn about ways to use communication as a well-developed tool they will be able to use in public safety. Students will have the opportunity to learn about their own communication style in order to creatively develop strategies that will foster and sustain long term trust and credibility for effective law enforcement and community relationships.

Smith said, “To build trust and transparency police officers are going to have to learn new ways of communicating.”

Students will learn the value of choosing the correct ways to communicate in specific situations. This course will offer students ways to cultivate the meaningful communication skills used in mediation, problem-solving and crisis intervention.

“We are looking for students to come out of this class with enhanced skills in the area of being able to interact verbally, in a productive way, with people that they are dealing with either on the job or within their personal lives,” Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice John DeCarlo said. “Good communication skills are important in delivering what criminal justice majors know as procedural justice.”

Students will look at the role communication plays in different environments and the ways emotions are developed with diverse audiences, including, but not limited to peaceful protest, crows control and crisis management.

Smith said, “The class will be cross listed with CJ but open to anyone with the prerequisites.”

Within the span of 15 weeks, students will learn skills such as understanding communication as an academic discipline, goals, roles and objectives of law enforcement, how to develop good communication skills, and how body cams impact the role of communication.