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Briefing: As law enforcement officers, we have to be aware of many things when we are on a call. Hands, eyes, body position, and body language, to name a few. We don’t get overly concerned about speech. People curse us and call us names all the time.

Dispatch (Assignment): How often do you use words? As law enforcement officers, how important is it to communicate in a fast, efficient manner?

On the Street: I was told early on in the police academy, “As a police officer, you don’t have the right to be offended.” I wish that were true. If we could turn on a robot mode and turn off personal feelings, this job would be a lot easier. Unfortunately, we don’t have robot modes, and people say and do things to us that have a lasting effect.

In my career, I have been called plenty of hurtful names. I won’t say I have been perfect, but for the most part I have not lashed out at anyone I have had to deal with while on duty. I was pretty good at staying cool during a call. In the station house or in the car with my partner, now that was a different story. There was a time when I used language that makes me blush. My speech was unacceptable.

Proverbs 4:24 (HCSB), “Don’t let your mouth speak dishonestly, and don’t let your lips talk deviously.”

Proverbs 5:2-4 (NIV), “that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.”

Proverbs 8:1-13 (HCSB), “Doesn’t Wisdom call out? Doesn’t Understanding make her voice heard? At the heights overlooking the road, at the crossroads, she takes her stand. Beside the gates at the entry to the city, at the main entrance, she cries out: “People, I call out to you; my cry is to mankind. Learn to be shrewd, you who are inexperienced; develop common sense, you who are foolish. Listen, for I speak of noble things, and what my lips say is right. For my mouth tells the truth, and wickedness is detestable to my lips. All the words of my mouth are righteous; none of them are deceptive or perverse. All of them are clear to the perceptive, and right to those who discover knowledge. Accept my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is better than jewels, and nothing desirable can compare with it. I, Wisdom, share a home with shrewdness and have knowledge and discretion. To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate arrogant pride, evil conduct, and perverse speech.”

Proverbs 10:6-8 (HCSB), “Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. The remembrance of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot. A wise heart accepts commands, but foolish lips will be destroyed.”

Proverbs 10:10-14 (NKJV), “He who winks with the eye causes trouble, but a prating fool will fall. The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins. Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding. Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.”

Proverbs 10:18-20 (NKJV), “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool. In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is worth little.”

Proverbs 10:31-32 (NIV), “From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be silenced. The lips of the righteous know what finds favor, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.”

Proverbs 11:9-13 (HCSB), “With his mouth the ungodly destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous are rescued. When the righteous thrive, a city rejoices, and when the wicked die, there is joyful shouting. A city is built up by the blessing of the upright, but it is torn down by the mouth of the wicked. Whoever shows contempt for his neighbor lacks sense, but a man with understanding keeps silent. A gossip goes around revealing a secret, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.”

Proverbs 12:6 (NKJV), “The words of the wicked are, “Lie in wait for blood,” But the mouth of the upright will deliver them.”

Proverbs 12:13-19 (NKJV), “The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will come through trouble. A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth, and the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise. A fool’s wrath is known at once, but a prudent man covers shame. He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. The truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment”.

Proverbs 12:22-25 (NIV), “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in people who are trustworthy. The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly. Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor. Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

Proverbs 13:2-3 (NKJV), “A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth, but the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence. He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.”

Proverbs 14:1-5 (KNJV), “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands. He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is perverse in his ways despises Him. In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, but the lips of the wise will preserve them. Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox. A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies.”

Proverbs 14:23 (NIV), “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Proverbs 15:1-4 (NKJV), “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”

Proverbs 15:7 (NKJV), “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the fool does not do so.”

Proverbs 15:14 (NKJV), “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.”

Proverbs 15:23 (NKJV), “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!”

Proverbs 15:28-30 (KNJV), “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil. The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous. The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and a good report makes the bones healthy.”

Proverbs 16:13 (NKJV), “Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and they love him who speaks what is right.”

Proverbs 16:21-24 (NKJV), “The wise in heart will be called prudent, and sweetness of the lips increases learning. Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it. But the correction of fools is folly. The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

Proverbs 16:27 (NKJV), “An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire.”

Proverbs 17:4 (NKJV), “An evildoer gives heed to false lips; a liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.”

Proverbs 17:7 (NKJV), “Excellent speech is not becoming to a fool, much less lying lips to a prince!”

Proverbs 17:20 (KNJV), “He who has a deceitful heart finds no good, and he who has a perverse tongue falls into evil.”

Proverbs 17:27-28 (NKJV), “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.”

Proverbs 18:2 (NKJV), “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.”

Proverbs 18:4 (NKJV), “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.”

Proverbs 18:7 (NKJV), “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”

Proverbs 18:13 (NKJV), “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.”

Proverbs 18:20-21 (NKJV), “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Proverbs 19:1 (NKJV), “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.”

Proverbs 19:5 (NKJV), “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies will not escape.”

Proverbs 20:15 (NKJV), “There is gold and a multitude of rubies, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”

Proverbs 20:19 (NKJV), “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.”

Proverbs 21:6 (NKJV), “Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.”

Proverbs 21:23 (NKJV), “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.”

Proverbs 21:28 (NKJV), “A false witness shall perish, but the man who hears him will speak endlessly.”

Proverbs 22:11 (NKJV), “He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend.”

Proverbs 24:28 (NKJV), “Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, for would you deceive with your lips?”

Proverbs 25:9-11 (NKJV), “Debate your case with your neighbor, and do not disclose the secret to another; Lest he who hears it expose your shame, and your reputation be ruined. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

Proverbs 25:15 (NKJV), “By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.”

Proverbs 25:23 (NKJV), “The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue an angry countenance.”

Proverbs 26:20 (NKJV), “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.”

Proverbs 26:24-28 (NKJV), “He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself; When he speaks kindly, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart; Though his hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him. A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

Proverbs 27:5-7 (NKJV), “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”

Proverbs 29:5 (NKJV), “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.”

Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV), “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”

Proverbs 29:20 (NKJV), “Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

Proverbs 30:10 (NKJV), “Do not malign a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be found guilty.”

Investigational Resources: James 3, 5:12, Psalm 64:3, Matthew 5:34-37

Officer Safety Principle: Our speech is vitally important. The New Testament says we will have to give an account for every careless word we speak. Some of us will have a lot of answering to do.

from The Book of Proverbs Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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