Communications, Articulable Cause and Reasonable Grounds

Communications are an essential component of any effective defensive tactics package and must include tactical communications as well as on scene and at court explanations of both articulable cause and reasonable grounds.

These skills need to be first modeled for and then practiced by the learners in their training. In our training sessions parallel Tac Comm skills are practiced throughout physical skills training.

Effective "Tactical Communication" components.

What are they? -Principles of communication used by people for a specific purpose. The “art” of getting your point across as well as hearing the other people.

Aims - To prevent conflicts from escalating and to de-escalate situations.

Listening - How do you know if they heard you?

Language - Words and structure. Are there different meanings for the same words?

Paralanguage - Tone, speed, volume

Kinesics - Body language, gestures, facial expressions, or any physical communication.

Personal Space - The area immediately around your body that you consider to be an extension of yourself.

Factors affecting personal space: Size, Gender, Racial Background, Familiarity, Emotional State, Circumstances

How is personal space related to the aims of Tac Comm?

Violating someone’s personal space may cause anxiety and lead to an escalation, thus if you avoid invading it you may prevent a situation from escalating.

When you are upset and angry with someone, how close do you want them to get to you? When that distance is breached you will back up or order them back, possibly push them away. If they’re angry then they are having these same reactions. The situation can easily escalate.

A good example of a de-escalation tactic would be to name what is happening, invite the subject to join you in slowing the emotions down and initiate the actions to accomplish this. For example;

“Hey, when I’m upset I don’t like people crowding me. I’ll bet you’re the same way?”

“Why don’t we both back up a couple of steps, take a deep breath and then resolve this.”

Now step back!

Articulable Cause (Investigative Detention)

The courts have clear expectations and differentiations between reasonable grounds and articulable cause. Civilian authorities and the ability to articulate your case are the areas of question. This all relates back to the common ground we all share under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms pertaining to search, detention and arrest.

Whenever we are following up on a complaint or observe someone or something suspicious we have articulable cause for stopping them or starting our investigation. This means simply that we can say why (articulate) we do what we are doing AND that our stated explanation is reasonable.

Anytime we stop anyone to ask them questions as to their identity, purpose for being there or questions relating to an investigation we have an investigative detention.

NOTE: The moment someone we are questioning asks if they are free to leave, it is time to decide, immediately, to allow them to go on their way or make an arrest. If we delay them unreasonably (in their or the courts estimation, not ours), we begin to skate into Charter violations and an unlawful detention/arrest.

Charter Approach

Whenever we approach anyone, we use the Charter Approach. This is detailed separately under both Passive and Active Arrest Sequences. In essence, it boils down to this:

“Hi my name is…”
“I work for…”
“I’m here because…”

We call it the Charter Approach because you’ve communicated who you are, you’re authority for stopping them and why you stopped them. If you then have to go to an arrest you’re half way into it. If it remains investigative detention you’ve clarified who you are and what you’re doing. No misunderstandings here when you get to court.

Articulable Cause Vs. Reasonable Grounds For Security Personnel

Articulable Cause

For security (and By-law) purposes, most investigations and detentions will be based on articulable cause. Someone (a reliable source) will report what they feel to be an infraction and personnel will be dispatched to follow–up.

(“Based on information received I proceeded to….”) According to the Charter everyone has the right to secure against unreasonable detention in section 9. Keep this in mind when you are acting on “reasonable grounds to believe.” Civilians do not have the same investigative authorities as the police when it comes to detention and release.

Reasonable Grounds

An example of security arrest/detention would be under the Trespass to Property Act. You are working as a security officer and, as you are making your rounds, you hear the sound of glass breaking in a washroom and observe a single male exit. You check the room and there are no other occupants and several of the mirrors have been broken.

Do you have “articulable cause” to approach and question the male? Yes of course. You also have the lawful authority to arrest the male subject “on reasonable and probable grounds to believe that he committed a prohibited activity on (or in relation to) your property according to the T.P.A.”

In either case you must be able to articulate what you did, why you did it and under what legal authority. Your actions must also be reasonable given all the circumstances. The potential “catch 22” is knowing your legal authorities, rights and responsibilities. This is NOT “nice to know” material but information you must know cold.

You must be clear on what you can and cannot do and you must take the appropriate action for the circumstances with which you are dealing. You can be held just as responsible for failing to act as for acting unreasonably or beyond your authority.

Not only must you be clear on your authorities and options in your own mind but your communications need to clearly explain these and, where relevant and appropriate, your articulable cause or reasonable grounds to the subject or other authorities.

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