Annalena Kolloch
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Bernd Meyer
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Inclusive and non-inclusive modes of communication in multilingual operational police training
in Policing race, ethnicity and culture
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European countries are becoming more and more linguistically and ethnically heterogeneous, and language barriers have become part of everyday police work. What happens if police officers notice that their counterparts show limited or no proficiency in the official language? Starting from the concept of ‘inclusive multilingualism’ (Backus et al., 2013) and based on observations of five experimental operational trainings with six teams each at a German police academy, this chapter analyses the different linguistic practices of individual police officers and their counterparts to deal with language barriers, e.g. using different languages, translation aids, non-verbal communication and physical coercion. The setting varies between fictitious deployment, a noise disturbance in refugee accommodation or a student dormitory, and a car stop during a traffic control. The decisive differences in solving the situations lie in the differentiated modes of communication used by the police officers, being inclusive or non-inclusive. Through the use of different modes of communication, police officers in our data bridge communication gaps by practising ‘inclusive multilingualism’. Further, the chapter outlines the importance of overcoming language barriers actively and creatively in everyday interactions between the police and counterparts with whom they don’t share a common language. This seems to be more significant than cultural differentiation for both sides. By putting everyday situations under the analytical microscope, the chapter contributes to current discussions about processes of cultural differentiation in everyday police work.

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Policing race, ethnicity and culture

Ethnographic perspectives across Europe


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