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Mediating Citizen Complaints: The Denver Program

NCJ Number
THE POLICE CHIEF Volume: 75 Issue: 8 Dated: August 2008 Pages: 32-36
Ajenai Clemmons; Richard Rosenthal
Date Published
August 2008
5 pages
This article presents an overview of Denver’s successful conflict resolution program through the use of mediation, the Community-Police Mediation Program.
The benefits of a community-police mediation program vastly outweigh the costs that every metropolitan police department should offer it as a service to its community and its own officers. Aside from the positive consequences inherent with this brand of conflict resolution, mediation serves to address effectively and efficiently challenges unique to public safety departments: the timeliness with which complaints are handled, the ability to resolve complaints in a satisfactory manner for all sides, the ability to convert complaints into opportunities to improve police-community relations, and the ability to identify a workable and sustainable system for handling allegations of racial bias. The Denver Office of the Independent Monitor (OIM) offers mediation as an alternative to the traditional complaint-handling process. Mediation was developed as a way to give control over the conflict resolution process back to the parties directly involved. OIM introduced the Community-Police Mediation Program in 2005 which has the potential to improve the relationship between complainants and officers one case at a time. Through the successful implementation of the Community-Police Mediation Program in Denver, this article describes the benefits of mediation, the obstacles to mediation, mediation case selection, the mediation process, and the implementation of continuous quality control to ensure satisfactory outcomes for both community members and officer. 3 tables, 3 notes