The potential for a riot seemed inevitable. A police-involved shooting had just taken place in an inner-city community in Toledo, Ohio, and the crowd was very tense. Toledo Police Chief George Kral drew on his 30+ years of experience to bring calm to the scene—and he drew from insights shared in Jodi Pfarr’s Tactical Communication workshop for first responders.
The next day, members of that same community were on the news expressing their satisfaction with how the situation was handled.
Oregon is a neighboring city of Toledo, Ohio, where I was on duty that day. As this situation was unfolding, our police department was redirected to the east side of Toledo. Being from the inner city myself and having taken Bridges Out of Poverty along with Tactical Communication, I created a mental map as to how I would handle the situation. It turns out that everything I was thinking should be done—that’s what Chief Kral did.
Chief Kral kept the police officers calm, and he did not put them in riot gear. He kept the SWAT team nearby but out of sight. He did not order any K-9 units to the scene.
Chief Kral also pulled a member of the person’s family from the crowd into the crime scene to talk with officers. He then released the dash cam footage from the police car to show that the shooting was legitimate. Together with the mayor, he addressed the community immediately.
Chief Michael Navarre of Oregon, Ohio, attended the same Tactical Communication training as Chief Kral. Navarre said Chief Kral stated that the training did help him with his decision making on the day of the shooting. In an article from The Toledo Blade, Navarre says of the training: “This is what we do as police officers, we respond to crisis. A lot of the problems that have occurred across the country, resulting in very bad things happening, are a direct result of police officers communicating with mainly lower-class individuals.” Navarre is interested in providing Tactical Communication to his own officers as part of their effort to increase communication skills and eliminate the need for deadly force.
I have gathered the video footage of the initial incident where the crowd was about to riot. I also have the video footage of members of that same community expressing their approval of how the police handled the situation. I added these videos to the PowerPoint I use when I facilitate the Tactical Communication training, and the impact has been amazing.
I’ve also recently completed Instructional Skills, which certifies me to teach in any police academy in Ohio. Several instructors and commanders have expressed interest in learning more about Tactical Communication and perhaps providing it in the academy setting.
Chief Kral’s crowd control through mutual respect proves the value of the strategies in Tactical Communication. If you’re building a Bridges community, be sure to include law enforcement and first responders in the conversation.
Angel Tucker is a police officer with the Oregon Police Department in Oregon, Ohio. As an aha! Process consultant, Officer Tucker presents Tactical Communication.