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  1. #1
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    Dealing with Drunks

    The only stupid question is the unasked question right? Does anybody have some tips or tactics or sources for info. they use with success in VERBALLY dealing with drunks? Once the drunk escalates it to hands-on that's a no brainer. But how can you effectively communicate with an impaired human to avoid that stage? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    In short, don't argue with a drunk. Direct verbal confrontation will often escalate the situation. Offering alternatives, re-phrasing, even compromising when possible, will more often lead to a peaceful resolution. Also, don't provide the drunk an audience. Seperate them from bystanders before talking to them.
    "There is no second place winner"-- Bill Jordan

  3. #3
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    Fantastic advice. The audience factor is exactly what went south in an encounter I had this weekend. Thanks a lot!

  4. #4
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    Though it was not as a police officer, but during several years of working security for large venues we always found using "peer to peer conversation" worked great with drunks. By this I mean to try talking to them as if your old buddies and "if they could just help you out by doing 'x' it would make your life so much easier" again, though in different situations even some of our sups would say stuff along the lines of "I'm new and my boss is over there watching and if he has to come over and get involved then it is going to worse for you and me so could you just help me out by doing 'x'." It sounds elementary but it worked almost everytime. Just act like they are doing you a huge favor and if they think they get one over on you by helping you out so be it as long as they do what you want them do....

    Good luck.
    "Have you seen that bumper sticker that says, "No More Hiroshimas"? I wish I had one that says, "You First. No more Pearl Harbors." --Gen. Richard E. Hawley (USAF-Ret)
    “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” --Thomas Jefferson
    "There is still a bottom 10% of the top 1%."

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimSpoor View Post
    In short, don't argue with a drunk. Direct verbal confrontation will often escalate the situation. Offering alternatives, re-phrasing, even compromising when possible, will more often lead to a peaceful resolution. Also, don't provide the drunk an audience. Seperate them from bystanders before talking to them.
    Agreed. Playing the "Good 'ol Boy" works very well for me. Talk about the scene at the bar they were drinking or the sports event, etc... Alcohol impairs multi-tasking, so you get them talking about the game or the fight or the women at the club and they usually forget that they wanted to fight. I also often tell them (for DUIs) this doesn't mean they are a criminal or a bad person, they just made a mistake. Most seem to really grasp that concept (and then give great spontaneous statements in that regard for use in court).

    I love drunks!
    "I wonder if I could kick your a$$. No, not just you...all three of you." - Jeff Speakman, Perfect Weapon

  6. #6
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    I work at a bar and have delt with too many in my day (a short a "day" but none the less) anyways I use what I refer to as "drunk logic" Most drunks as mentioned can't multi task, and so if you say things that make more sense to a drunk person then your generally better off, also if you try and keep them from getting frustrated it also helps because when they get asked 3 diffrent things they tend to want to get violent. I say stuff like hey man you'd really be doing me a great favor if you did this or bro i bet it'd be way more fun if you tried this, or if they're needing to leave first thing I ask for is their ID, and when I get it I say hey lets talk outside quick, and 99% of the time they fall for it. (when they get outside I inform them that they're not comming back in and to have a nice night...) anyways it's all about how they are, most drunks are easy if you make a few jokes and don't seem all that p.o'd at them, if your easy going they tend to respond likewise, and the phrase "hey do me a favor" seems to work the best. But if that fails or they don't/can't comply ask for the ID and tell them to follow you. Rule #1 is that friends will ALWAYS incite the drunk to do something stupid. My .02
    Greetings. This is not God, This is his close friend Officer Boscorelli. Please pull over - Bosco

  7. #7
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    Jan 2002
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    when dealing with a DUI, most will get angry if they fail a sobriety test and insist that they are not drunk. I would always agree and tell them that noboby said that they were driving drunk or they they were drunk. I would just say that they were impaired. Seems simple but using the term impaired would usually keep them calm. I know its samantics, but the term drunk driver is really viewed very negatively even to the drunk, but impaired is a nicer term.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2004
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    applies to all situations

    Quote Originally Posted by cheftocop View Post
    The only stupid question is the unasked question right? Does anybody have some tips or tactics or sources for info. they use with success in VERBALLY dealing with drunks? Once the drunk escalates it to hands-on that's a no brainer. But how can you effectively communicate with an impaired human to avoid that stage? Thanks.
    Excellent question and it applies to all defendants, drunks, drug impaired, uncooperative due to attitude/stupidity, etc ,etc

    A few books out there on Verbal Judo, negotiation (sales), etc are good reads.

    SOME things to keep in mind

    1- establish rapport (common ground)
    2- establish non-confrontational (this does NOT mean be non-command presence, non-professional, it DOES mean do not egg the suspect on or tell him to "just try it and see what happens" type stuff.)
    3- blame a higher authority, "sir, gotta put you in the back of the car for your safety, cant have you wandering around the side of the road" versus "ok, I am gonna arrest you, see what happens when you decide to be stupid? Stupid people go to stupid jail. Now turn around and place your hands behind your back" etc etc
    4- "not a bad person, maybe made a bad decision this time around, but you are not a bad person" etc stuff.
    5- nothing personal, doing my job. etc etc
    6- Your and HIS nonverbals say much more than either of you are saying with your mouth. FYI. This includes uniform appearance. Command presence, clean uniform, shined boots, confident voice, coming from a 95 pound skinny officer will win 95% of the situations versus a nervous voice coming from a 500 pound officer with a beer gut and Big Mac sauce on his non-gig line uniform shirt. Want to guess whose gun the crooks will try to grab? You would be surprised.
    7- Don't argue with a drunk. Right now (they are drunk) they are not thinking or acting with full abilities. FYI on that. They may say offensive remarks against you but be cognizant they are drunk. Maintain officer safety and professionalism.
    If the drunk calls you a name that does not mean you take him to the ground with pepper spray and the PR-24. You carry a badge, allegedly this means you are tougher than most. Get used to name calling and other things from your clientele base. Don't cry to mommy, or use the PR-24 for that matter, just because someone called you a name. No, we can't allow the crooks to urinate on the uniform nor can we smack everyone we see with lead filled SAP gloves. Find the proper balance which allows you to maintain professionalism, it will be different for every situation.

    8. Go home safely at the end of shift. Most important rule in law enforcement.
    Last edited by satpak77; 11-20-2006 at 19:35.

  9. #9
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    Get them to laugh somehow. Most drunk you arrest for DUI or something will be fun to deal with so long as they are in a good mood. After they blow on the intox, try to let them smoke or something, they will think you are thier friend then or something.

    Just keep treating them like people, and they should be nice to you back. Don't talk down to them though, or anyone else, but drunks will start fighting sometimes. You don't want that.
    God Created Cops So Firefighters Could Have Heros!

  10. #10
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    I've arrested something like 2K DUI's in my career, and when using the above guidelines I never had to lay my hands on any of them. The only time I ever had a problem was when a co-worker would say or do something stupid to them.
    DelC
    “You never know if quotes on the internet are genuine or not" . . . Abraham Lincoln

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by satpak77 View Post
    3- blame a higher authority"

    I did that all the time when I was uniformed.....still do for that matter.....

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DelC View Post
    The only time I ever had a problem was when a co-worker would say or do something stupid to them.
    Absolutely. This is huge! Keep an eye on your fellow officers. The only time any of my DUIs ever get angry is when another cop decides start to show how tough he/she is. Definately don't be afraid to quickly cut them off when that happens and play the good cop, then take them aside out of earshot and politely tell them not to antagonize your subject. (The hard part is when it's a Sergeant or Lieutenant.) Generally, you'll know who those cops are and can head them off before they cause problems.
    "I wonder if I could kick your a$$. No, not just you...all three of you." - Jeff Speakman, Perfect Weapon

  13. #13
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    Apr 2005
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    I phrase things they way the drunk wants to hear them. Basic "Verbal Judo". Ususally works.

    For example, if I arrest a guy for DWI, he starts getting mad, thinking he's going to go to jail, pay a fine and lawyer, loose his license, loose his dog, etc., etc. etc.......

    I'll tell him we'll go back to the station, take the test, if you are under the legal limit, i'll give you a ride home. Now I know he's no where near the legal limit, but all of the sudden he stops thinking about the negative and thinking I might be giving him a ride home.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by beeker View Post
    I phrase things they way the drunk wants to hear them. Basic "Verbal Judo". Ususally works.

    For example, if I arrest a guy for DWI, he starts getting mad, thinking he's going to go to jail, pay a fine and lawyer, loose his license, loose his dog, etc., etc. etc.......

    I'll tell him we'll go back to the station, take the test, if you are under the legal limit, i'll give you a ride home. Now I know he's no where near the legal limit, but all of the sudden he stops thinking about the negative and thinking I might be giving him a ride home.
    Good advice - Always worked for me - Except when my co-worker walked up and said, "You have an outstanding warrant for your arrest Scumbag, you're going to jail and there is no bond". Then the fight was on!!
    DelC
    “You never know if quotes on the internet are genuine or not" . . . Abraham Lincoln


 

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