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Communication is very essential in our daily lives. This is because through communication we are able to understand each other and collaboration is possible for activities and duties to be carried out as expected. However, communication has some components which need to be observed and among them is the skill of interpersonal communication. In any communication process that is happening face to face and involves two or more people, the application of interpersonal communication is essential to the success of the process. This importance does not discriminate against law enforcement as officers in the area need to possess interpersonal communication skills for them to fit in well into their jobs. When they lack this trait, there is a possibility of unethical practices being fostered which include corruption, unethical decision making and misunderstandings within the officers. As a conceptual analysis, the relationship between interpersonal communication and corruption has been done and it was demonstrated how a lack of interpersonal communication skills can lead to other forms of lawbreaking like organized crime. Throughout this analysis, the importance of interpersonal communication has been discussed and the role it can play in reducing corruption cases in law enforcement.
Corruption is one of the undermining factors to the positive growth of any economy. As described by experts, the existence of corruption in any economy or institution leads to unethical practices that are not welcome in society. Corruption has more than one meaning but the most famous describes it as dishonest and fraudulent conduct by individuals who hold certain powers and such conducts involve the giving and taking of bribes. Corruption can be promoted by a number of factors including a lack of interpersonal communication. For a law enforcement officer, there are some qualities which these individuals are expected to have for them to be competent enough. These qualities include communication skills, a commitment to helping people and physical and psychological attributes and they need to be balanced for the right and expected results to click. On the other hand, interpersonal communication defines the process by which individuals are able to communicate feelings, words and exchange information by the use of verbal and nonverbal communication processes. The two aspects, interpersonal communication, and corruption can be interrelated when it comes to law enforcement as former can cause the latter to happen and if this is possible, results will not be pleasing. The use of interpersonal skills in law enforcement has been encouraged for a long time now because when officers apply this skill, there is a surety that they can enhance good managerial skills and help enforce the main aim of law enforcement.
One of the reasons as to why interpersonal communication is important in communication processes is because it enables the understanding of one another and being able to realize what kind of people we really are. Once this understanding has been gained, it is possible to be able to detect what they may be thinking of in a certain situation, the way they may perceive a situation, how they feel and what they know (Bailenson et al., 2008). When this aspect lacks in an institution and, in this case, in law enforcement agencies, a crisis may loom. For example, a client may come to be served in a law enforcement officer and if they do not know the person that is serving them well, they may be tempted to conduct themselves unethically. Some of the unethical characters that these people can pose include trying to corrupt a law enforcement officer. On the other hand, when a law enforcement officer is serving a client and the two get to interact interpersonally, a law enforcement officer with good interpersonal skills will portray the qualities of good governance. Good governance does not come easy and among the factors that promote it is interpersonal communication. If a law enforcement officer shows good governance and is able to serve their clients well, they will make those people that want to engage in malpractices like corruption shy away. But if a law enforcement officer does not uphold good governance and seems unethical, they can be easily corrupted and this will make such malpractices continue.
When there is a lack of transparency in an institution, information flow will be lacking. This will lead to unethical decisions because the people who will be making decisions will be making them based on the little information that they have and not the real facts behind the decision to be made. In law enforcement, making decisions needs to be done on the basis of fully understanding situations and being able to detect the factors that need to be considered. And for this information to be fully available, law enforcement officers need to communicate properly with one another and this includes communicating interpersonally. As mentioned earlier, when two people get to communicate interpersonally, getting information is easy and this information can be substantial in making ethical decisions that will comply with the needs of a given situation. In this case, unethical activities like corruption can be avoided if law enforcement officers are in clear usage of interpersonal skills and seem to be clear in their interpretation of the law. Again, strict measures should be laid down by law enforcement agencies to ensure that all their officers are in alignment with the skills of interpersonal communication and ensure that they observe them in carrying out their duties and roles.
A reason as to why the making of unethical decisions is possible is because people in a communication process do not get to understand the context in which communication is taking place. For example, a law enforcement officer may be communicating to their immediate boss about a certain issue and in the process, the officer may use some words and statements that may pose more than one meaning. If the person being communicated to does not have clear interpersonal communication skills or does not understand the exact context that is in present use, the confusion caused can make the boss make a decision which will not align with the given situation and this will hinder proper ethics as per the context. Thus, interpersonal communication plays a vital role in helping individuals understand the context in which a communication process is taking place. This understanding can also minimize corruption because understanding the current context will uphold transparency as all the information that is needed will be clear. Where transparency is present, there is little to no chance of corruption as all parties will know what is expected of them and how to act. Transparency will also make the officers be accountable for their actions as to where there are transparency and integrity observations, rules and regulations are put down as a way of ensuring that those who do not observe them are punished accordingly.
When making a decision, inclusion is effective for ensuring that the decisions that need to be reached are appropriate and that they will be received well by all people. In the case of law enforcement, there is a need to include more than one person when making a decision because the decision which is to be made impacts all departments. On the other hand, for the decision to be reached there is a need to compile more than one source of information and this means that many law enforcement officers will be contacted before a certain decision will be reached. In this scenario, corruption within the law enforcement system will not be allowed, because decision making will not be handled by a single individual but rather a group of law enforcement leaders and individuals. In relation to this context, interpersonal communication will enable the parties involved in decision making to come to realize the reasons as to why the contributions of individuals were so and to be able to determine their level of honesty in the decisions that have been reached.
Interpersonal communication is essential in building relationships (Bailenson et al., 2008). Collaboration in law enforcement is mandatory because bits of information need to be joined together so as to attain relevant and enough information that can be acted on. Building an interpersonal relationship through interpersonal communication can minimize corruption in the sense that such an individual in the law enforcement will be able to have good relationships with a lot of people (Lustig, Koester & Zhuang, 2006). When it comes to looking for some crucial or confidential information, for example, it will be easier for the law enforcement officer to get ahold of any information they need because they have that close relationship with their peers and other people. This easiness will minimize unethical activities like having to bribe others in order to get to know any crucial information that they hold or make them extend favors at a benefit. The reduction of the chances to use bribes and corrupt people in order to get ahold of information will also be beneficial in minimizing the possibility of making unethical decisions because people paid to give out information, for example, can willingly give out wrong information if they realize the urgency and need of the information. In addition, in law enforcement, getting the wrong information can completely tamper with a certain process or a line of activity. However, by fostering interpersonal relationships and communicating interpersonally, information which is truthful will be attained and unethical decision making and thinking will be avoided.
Interpersonal communication comes with a number of skills that help individuals in law enforcement to carry out their duties effectively. Some of these skills include problem-solving skills, negotiation skills, decision-making skills, and assertiveness. In law enforcement, officers who possess these skills and apply them in their duties are effective as compared to those that have little understanding of interpersonal communication. For example, when an officer who is able to communicate interpersonally meets a challenging situation and is expected to act ethically and reach a solution, they can buy their way out by using proper antics instead of acting unethically. In this situation, unethical decisions include extending a favor so as to get something in return or using unethical means to reach a targeted destination. Such favors, in most cases, are benefits that are against the rule and expectations of all organizations and their curbing can increase service efficiency and openness.
Interpersonal communication can also lead to curing of illegal activities like organized crime. This is because, in the presence of interpersonal communication, information sharing will be free and will flow to all the relevant parties. This will enable law enforcement officers to put in a collaborative effort and make decisions from the available information on how to deal with the issue. For organized crime fighting, critical thinking is necessary. And for critical thinking to be activated, an understanding of a situation is necessary so as to be able to understand them fully in the right contexts and to make decisions that will be of positive impact to the processes. On the side of fighting corruption, the application of interpersonal communication in communicating between law enforcement officers will aid the eradication of some factors that can promote corruption in the service including secretiveness, unresponsiveness, and inefficiency. Minimization of these factors will, in turn, reduce corruption issues in law enforcement because all individuals will be aware of the processes that need to be followed in certain issues and information to be acted on will be freely available.
As interpersonal communication promotes interpersonal relationships, corruption, in this case, can be dealt a massive blow because between officers who have interpersonal relationships, it will be hard for them to ask for benefits from each other in return for favors. Additionally, the leaders in law enforcement will lead by example if they practice interpersonal skills and in the process, are leading law enforcement institution by the use of good governance. This will discourage other employees in the sector not to engage in corrupt deals as they may fear that if they are caught, they may have to face stiffer penalties and subsequently, lose their jobs. Once this situation is achieved, corruption in law enforcement will go down and this scenario will bring in new benefits. For example, if a law enforcement officer is not interested in corruption deals, such an officer will be diligent in their job and will lead to the achievement of efficient results.
Through communicating interpersonally, it is easier for trained law enforcement officers to be able to detect people who are telling lies. With this in mind, law enforcement leaders can interact interpersonally with their employees and in case they have engaged in corruption deals or in unethical practices, the leaders will be able to detect it easily and take the necessary steps to counter the situation and rectify them completely so as to avoid repetitions in the future. Interrogations and interpersonal communications between a law enforcement officer and a criminal of organized crime, for example, can lead to conclusions and dig out information that can be useful in fighting organized crime and nabbing more criminals in this illegal activity.
Unethical decisions in law enforcement are common but with effective communication skills and most probably interpersonal communication skills, it is possible to avoid these issues. On the other hand, the presence of interpersonal communication between officers can reduce a lot of other negative activities like corruption in law enforcement institutions. As described in this paper, interpersonal skills should be a must-have by all law enforcement officers for them to be able to fight crimes, reduce unethical decisions and also minimize cases of corruption. However, the behavior of law enforcement officers is determined by their will and, in some cases, the officers may possess all the necessary skills for communication but they may not be able to practice them due to their own wishes or unavoidable circumstances. Thus, it is important for law enforcement agencies and institutions to encourage their officers to practice these communication skills and in addition, they can implement training programs whereby the officers will be subjected in course short training to achieve these skills.