For Citizens & The Police: Stay Calm in the Heat of the Moment
The history of police-community relations is already filled with too many regrettable and avoidable incidents. For both sides, encounters between citizens and the police can easily become tense. Understandably these moments can produce a range of emotions, anxieties and impulsive actions that can put everyone at risk -- including the general public. Feelings of fear, anger, frustration, disrespect and embarrassment can quickly take over our actions and words. The human instinct to fight or flee can also be easily triggered.
Whenever the police and citizens come face-to-face, it is essential to stay calm and stand in each others’ shoes. All police-citizen encounters should be about getting safely past the moment. Pausing for a moment or two to calm yourself in a tense situation isn’t always easy. But it is possible.
- Be aware of your breathing. Breathe long and deep into your stomach and hold for several seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat at least three times.
- Notice the places in your body that are particularly tight and where you’re holding physical tension. Do your best to deliberately release the tightness.
- Recognize your negative emotions. Remind yourself they may be momentary. The consequences of acting impulsively are not.
- Know that there will be opportunities later to sort out the facts and the law, often with the assistance of others and the courts.
- Remember that everyone shares the same goal for the end of the day: Get home safely.
- Be mindful of all the reasons in your life to move safely past this moment.
“In my experience, the only way to combat fear is with hope. If you believe that tomorrow will be better than today, your anxiety will fade. That’s how I felt in World War II and during the civil-rights movement.” ~ Dabney N. Montgomery, 92, a ground crewman with the Tuskegee Airmen in Southern Italy in World War II; recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal (2007).