SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- We all know police have weapons and man-power at their disposal but before a situation gets out of hand, police have another tool in their arsenal; their voice.
Before a situations turns into chaos, the first weapon a police officer uses is their voice through verbal judo.
"The key thing with verbal judo is to communicate with the person that we are asking to comply with us," says Santa Maria Police Department Corporal Elegio Lara. "Let them know that we are there, that they have a say in this conversation."
When using verbal judo to diffuse a situation, officers use two key tactics. First, they will ask the suspect to comply. Second, police will explain to the suspect the consequences of their actions.
Officers learn about verbal judo during their training in the police academy. Officer Lara says the tactic worked for him answering a call dealing with a mentally ill person with a weapon.
"I started to explain to him what we were doing there," says Lara. "I started explaining to him, 'his family wanted the best for him--we wanted the best for him. We wanted to just offer you the help. Step back, put the knife on the table and then you can walk to me and then we can talk' and I'm giving him an option and that option is just cooperate with me."
An alternative to physical force, he says works 90% of the time. Which is good news to Santa Maria residents like Dennis Clendennen.
"If you can diffuse a situation without using force it would be better for all of us," says Clendennen.
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