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April 9, 2002
OSWEGO -- Law enforcement agents from around the region had the opportunity to learn about "verbal judo" recently during a pair of two-day sessions in SUNY Oswego's Sheldon Hall.
"Verbal Judo" is a communication training course that enables participants to calm difficult people who may be under severe emotional or other influences, redirect the behavior of hostile people, diffuse potentially dangerous situations, perform professionally under all conditions and achieve the desired outcome of the encounter, said Michael Manley, national director of the Verbal Judo Institute.
Manley, who led the sessions in Oswego, said he conducts courses for private corporations, customer service representatives, educational institutions, security departments and law enforcement personnel throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.
Manley explained the idea behind the law enforcement seminars: "It's not enough to be good, you also have to look good and sound good or no good!"
This means that professionalism is an important part of law enforcement, explained Assistant Chief Larry Jerrett of SUNY Oswego's University Police, who took the March 23 and 24 weekend course. Jerrett said that the course shows officers can handle situations even with difficult individuals by trying to achieve solutions that will be easiest for all involved.
"If we come into a situation and diffuse it by being professional, that's good," Jerrett said. "This training shows us how to avoid escalating a situation. It's our job to create solutions, not cause additional problems."
About 70 people from around the state and region took one of the two-day sessions. In addition to University Police officers, attendees represented such agencies as the New York State Police, Department of Environmental Conservation, Oswego City Police Department, Oswego County Probation Department, Onondaga County Sheriff's Department and Madison County 911, Jerrett said.
"Officer Mike Payne (of University Police) told me about this several years ago," Jerrett said. "He said he'd read the book and was very impressed. I started to hear very positive comments from people who took the course."
The "Verbal Judo" sessions at Oswego were made possible by a $10,000 grant secured by state Sen. James Wright. "If not for him, we wouldn't be able to do this," Jerrett said.
Jerrett thinks the sessions are worth any price. "If it saves us a lawsuit, if it saves an officer from getting injured, or if it saves a member of the public from getting injured, it's well worth it," he said.
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