Broadening situational awareness

An Ecological Dynamics Approach on Officer Safety and Officer Safety Training

Keywords: officer safety, police training, communication, police use-of-force, ecological dynamics


Dealing professionally with the potential for violence that exists in the police profession is part of the everyday tasks of police officers. Geared towards the German situation, the concept of officer safety, which is anchored in training and practice, provides the central orientation for this.The  paper  argues  for  a  comprehensive  understanding  of  officer  safety  from  the  perspective  of  ecological  dynamics,  which  directly  affects  the  scope  of  situational  awareness  and  associated  training. We argue that the key means of officer safety is professional communication in a broad sense,  with  the  use  of  means  being  highly  context  dependent.  As  such,  violent  communication  respectively  the  use  of  coercive  force  as  communication  can  be  just  as  necessary  as  verbal  and  non-verbal de-escalation, physical proximity be appropriate as well as distance. Navigating pro-fessionally through this context-dependent complexity requires a broad understanding of situa-tional awareness that extends the recognition of possible danger cues. We conclude by outlining several practical implications for police officers, police training and police organizations.

How to Cite
Koerner, S., & Staller, M. (2022). Broadening situational awareness. European Law Enforcement Research Bulletin, 22, 173-185. Retrieved from