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Evaluation of a Pilot Community Policing Program: The Pasadena Police-Community Mediation and Dialog Program

NCJ Number
Brian Buchner; Merrick J. Bobb; Oren Root; Matthew Barge
Date Published
February 2008
70 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of the evaluation of a pilot community policing program in Pasadena, CA that combines mediation with community dialog in addressing citizen complaints against police officers and in strengthening police-community relationships.
The evaluation found that mediation and dialog, as practiced in Pasadena, have great promise for building greater mutual understanding and trust between the police and community members; however, it is not reasonable or practical to pursue replacing the traditional investigation-and-adjudication model for handling complaints against police with the mediation-and-dialog model. Mediation is limited primarily to complaints that allege officer rudeness, disrespect, or minor instances of excessive force. This report advises that criteria for selecting cases for mediation should be carefully devised and not be too broad. Further, outreach and education efforts within the agency and community regarding the nature and purposes of the mediation-and-dialog model are critical to program success. Further, mediation should be used to do more than resolve individual complaints against the police. In conjunction with the mediation program, Pasadena has organized public forums that address issues of broader community concern, some of which are related to issues underlying specific complaints. If a complaint is suitable for mediation, a sergeant contacts the involved officer and union representative in proposing mediation in lieu of a formal internal affairs investigation. If the officer chooses mediation, the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Service, Inc. receives the complaint referral, which in turn contacts the complainant and offers mediation. The use of trained outside mediators helps ensure that both officers and community members view the mediation process as unbiased. Although the goal of mediation is for the parties to reach a mutually agreeable resolution, either party can terminate the mediation at any time for referral to a standard investigation. 1 figure, 1 table, 56 references, and appended outline of the purpose, procedures, process, and resolution in the mediation program