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Restorative Processes and Police Complaints

Police complaints boards are using restorative processes to resolve community complaints against officers.

St. Louis program helps police and public smooth over minor conflicts
from the article in the St. Louis Post -Dispatch: If you think a city cop was rude, cursed at you or treated you unfairly, you might have a chance to hammer out your differences in a face-to-face chat. St. Louis police are running a pilot program aimed at resolving bitter but relatively minor conflicts between citizens and officers. So far, the department has resolved 15 complaints through mediation since the program started in October 2011, said Lt. Scott Gardner, an internal affairs commander.
‘What We All Want is Respect’
from the article by Candace McCoy: What’s next for police-neighborhood relationships in New York City? All parties know that aggressive stop-and-frisk practices must change. A federal judge said so.
LAPD to try voluntary mediation in racial profiling cases
from the article by Joel Rubin in the Los Angeles Times: The Los Angeles Police Department received the go-ahead Tuesday to launch an experimental mediation program that would bring officers face-to-face with people who have accused them of racial profiling.
Rare legal settlements demand officers pay too
from the article by Steve Mills in the chicago Tribune: To settle a wrongful-conviction lawsuit against the Chicago police, the city recently agreed to pay Harold Hill $1.25 million. What never became public was that, to reach the settlement late last year, two detectives in the case that sent Hill to prison for 12 years for a rape and murder he insisted he did not commit agreed to contribute, too. It was not much next to the total settlement — $7,500 each — yet it apparently meant something to Hill.
Police apologise over child murders probe
from the article on BBC News: Scotland's largest police force has apologised for a series of failures in its handling of a double child murder. Strathclyde Police said that it was "extremely sorry" for the way Giselle Ross was treated after the deaths of her sons, Paul, six, and Jay, two. The children were murdered by their father Ashok Kalyanjee at a beauty spot in the Campsie Fells in May 2008.
Harvard scholar versus Cambridge police
President Obama introduceg the idea of victim-offender dialogue. He brought the two sides to the table to talk. This is extremely important. Thank you for [...]
Great perspective
Thanks for the insight Lisa. I agree that Obama's initiative had great practical value and points to restorative values. I like the symbolism of these [...]
Race and Gender both count
hi folks.. Lisa, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I was traveling in Australia when this happened and had an interesting conversation with a friend of [...]
Restorative justice/racial profiling/racism
Hello, Henry. Great to see your comments. I think you pointed out a number of important points here. I liked your first point in particular [...]
meeting at the White House
Thanks, Janine for your comments & the link to your site and your blog. I will read it carefully. I agree with you that the [...]
restorative justice/racial profiling
Hello, Avo. Great to hear from you. Do you have issues related to the targeting of certain types of individuals due to their racial, ethnic/or [...]
Restorative Beer
Yes, there was no doubt in my mind when I heard Obama offer the "biergarten conversation" that he was using the "teachable moment" as he [...]
Arresting Racism in the USA
Yes, Lisa, the case was touched in estonian newspapers too. They had more attention on topic what bier was on the table in White House, [...]
Arresting Racism in the USA
It will be a wonderful day in America when a mediated dialogue after an incident like this is considered normal. Of course, they all can't [...]
The Beer Summit
I do think that it would have been helpful to have a neutral intervene among the various people who were involved in this conflict. See: [...]
cop vs. professor
Thank you for the great commentary Lisa! President Obama provided a wonderful service by modeling how conflicting people can communicate and come to understand each [...]
Harvard scholar versus Cambridge police
by Lisa Rea Most of us have heard all about the police incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of Harvard Square. A Harvard scholar by the name of Henry Louis Gates was arrested at his home after a neighbor called the police concerned someone was breaking into the house. This occurred at 12:30pm after Gates had just returned to his home from an international flight to China.
Dobry, Josephine. A view from the Police Complaints Authority
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) in England is an independent organization established by Parliament. Receiving and deciding on thousands of recorded complaints against the police each year, it has powers to supervise the most serious and high profile of such complaints. The PCA has been collaborating with the Thames Valley Police since 1998 to introduce the principles of restorative justice into the complaints process. On this basis, and following a period of consultation and planning, a pilot project was launched in the Thames Valley in the spring of 2000. Jo Dobry, a member of the PCA, discusses the reasons for a restorative approach in the complaints process and the prospects for profound change in the complaint system.
Smith, Graham. Rethinking Police Complaints
Procedures for dealing with complaints against the police have been at the centre of police reform fort he last half-century. This paper departs from the traditional 'who investigates' approach and managerial orthodoxy to consider the primary functions of the complaints process. Four causes of complaints are identified- unprofessional behaviour, criminal conduct, tortious action, and unacceptable policy- and four functions are considered- managerial, liability, restorative, and accountability. It is concluded that in order to effectively and efficiently deal with the various causes of complaint, the two-tier system is required to deal with complaints that allege unprofessional behaviour and criminal conduct, and a third, separate tier, is necessary to consider unacceptable police policy. (author's abstract).
Berger, Vivian. Civilians Versus Police: Mediation Can Help to Bridge the Divide
The increasing frequency of notorious cases of conflicts between police officers and members of the general public (which in New York City has led to incidents of death, battery, and sexual assault) is cause for alarm. At the root of many police-community conflicts is an incomplete understanding of the work of the police, poor communication on the part of the police and the public, or simple misunderstanding. A number of communities, including New York City, are turning to mediation to provide a forum for the potential resolution of complaints made against police by citizens. After a brief survey of the work of such programs nationally, the author focuses on three new York cases in which she served as a mediator, using them to illustrate the pitfalls and special rewards of mediating in this context. The author believes that the mediation process itself can work in a transformative way, improving strained relations between police and the general population. Author abstract.

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