Cops: Why They Look And Act “That Way”

Command Presence, don't look like prey

Command Presence

Predatory animals watch and stalk their prey before moving in for the kill. They’re patient and often wait for just the right target, the weakest animal in the pack. They do so because the battle will be easier, and humans, including criminals, are no different. The cop who looks and acts weak—the meekest of the herd—often finds himself the target of attack, from verbal abuse all the way to physical assault.

So what do cops do as a front-line defense against all that unnecessary grief? Well, for starters, they’re taught to portray what’s known as Command Presence.

An officer who looks sharp, acts sharp, and is sharp has an advantage over the officer who dresses sloppily and isn’t all that confident about their work. The latter are the officers who most often find themselves having the most difficulties on the street.

Command presence is all about being at the top of the game. Taking a few minutes to be sure your shoes, badge, and brass are polished goes a long way toward projecting a positive image. So does wearing a clean and neatly pressed uniform. And let’s don’t forget regular trips to the folks who cut hair for a living. All these things make an officer look sharp.

Think about it.

Who would you have more confidence in, the officer with the dirty, wrinkled clothing and shaggy hair and who doesn’t take the job seriously?

Or the officer who looks fresh and sharp, and projects a solid air of authority?


Crooks size up officers the same way you do. They just have other things in mind when they do. They watch, looking for the weak ones, and those are the officers who’ll most likely be dealing with escape attempts, lies, and other criminal tricks.

Tips for developing a better command presence.

  • Be professional at all times. And that includes updated training. A cop who knows his job inside out projects more confidence. The same is true with physical training. Stay in shape and know and trust your defensive tactics.
  • Good posture is important. Someone standing straight and tall has an advantage over the officer who slouches. Poor posture sometimes comes across as a weakness, especially when confronting an aggressive suspect.
  • Always make eye contact when speaking to someone.
  • Honesty and consistency are important traits. The bad guys will quickly learn that what you say is what you mean, each and every time. Treat everyone fairly and consistently.
  • First impressions only come around once. Make it your best impression. If a suspect’s first impression of you is that you’re weak, well, expect to have a rough day.
  • Size up everyone. Always be aware of who and what you’re dealing with, and stay one step ahead of the person in front of you. Remember, that person may want to kill you, so be prepared to do what it takes to survive. And I mean do this each and every time you come into contact with someone. You never know which person is the one who plans to do you harm.

Most importantly, believe in yourself. Have confidence in what you do and who you are. All the shoe-shining and training in the world will not help you if you’re playing make believe. The bad guys will see through that in a heartbeat.

So wear the badge proudly, stand tall, and do what it takes to come home at night.

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