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Effective Understanding for Compliance
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 04/20/2015


Every officer is charged with the responsibility to keep his or her areas safe and secure. They are in fact, their domain to regulate and keep clear of disorder and other forms of disobedience or distress. How this is maintained depends on the tools given and the personal feelings given on such a subject or challenge.

First we have to understand the environment and how important is for compliance of rules and regulations to make the shift run safe and orderly. Second, we have to remember “approach determines response.” The officer disperses three personality traits that make it either easier or harder to get the work done and gain compliance or non-compliance.

These traits are attitude, tone and mood. Attitude is the officer’s personal feelings about a subject or challenge given. Tone is the stylistic devices to reveal that personal feeling and mood is the response created in the environment due to the use of those particular devices.

Whether you realize it or not, these three words exist in many placement exams and job descriptions as well as the knowledge, skills and abilities listed to get the job done.

Working them in reverse, you can get a close resemblance of attitude if the done reveals the mood and attitude of the officer. Attitude is difficult to grasp if you have little information about the background of the officer and is often misunderstood. Difficult because a good officer will never reveal their background to the prisoner keeping them off balance.

We also try to conduct an analysis of intent and delivery of commands with tone and attitude to try to find out the mood the officer is in when present. This is wasted time as attitude can be easily disguised and basically faked to bring about a charade of emotions not real but purposely done to attain compliance.

Listening to the tone gives the prisoner a better understanding of the attitude and developing or existing mood. One would have to take it for granted prisoners pay attention to such displays but a good officer projects a command presence with these tools to device such a study.

An experienced officer will develop the tone through the use of specific devices and diction or speech. An understanding of tone is necessary to identify mood and the key to a degree of intensity or expressed intention to attain compliance. In most cases, a solid appropriate tone will suffice.

Mood is developed with time and experience as well as psychological adjustments creating a variety of feelings that may be happy, sad, inspired, or as all of us have experienced, even be bored. Possessed with skills the officer’s attitude, tone thereby determine the mood. The trick on controlling the mood is not to simply not internalize your problems and bring your personal life to work.

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

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