Decoding Nonverbal Communication in Law Enforcement


  • Noel Otu


Law enforcement, authority, dominance, body language, nonverbal communication


This analytical study examined the importance of nonverbal communication in law enforcement work. In many encounters between police and citizens, the primary focus is always on suspects’/citizens’ verbal statements, rather than on how and what their body is conveying while telling the story. This study argues for an integrated approach in which the police officers need to realise that they, too, are communicating nonverbally with suspects. This study reveals that nonverbal communication, also known as body language, proxemic, and kinesics behavior, in many cases tends to constitute a much larger fraction of the police communication model than verbal communication, which should help officers to establish authority and dominance and ensure their safety. Nonverbal communication is not something added onto criminal justice, but rather it is the essence of criminal justice. This results suggest that nonverbal communication is the foundation of a successful relationship/encounter between criminal justice personnel and suspects or criminals, as well as being a powerful method that cannot be feigned.

Author Biography

Noel Otu

Noel Otu, BA, MA, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Texas at Brownsville. His research interests include ethnic behavior, culture and crime, and police brutality. His publications have appeared in several leading criminological journals, including: The Justice Professional, International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminology and Criminal Justice, International Journal of Police Science and Management, The Police Journal, Journal of Nigerian Affairs, and African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies. -




How to Cite

Otu, N. (2023). Decoding Nonverbal Communication in Law Enforcement. Salus Journal, 3(2), 1–16. Retrieved from



Analytical Study