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Police & Community Mediation

by Jeff Thompson
March 2010

From Jeff Thompson's Enjoy Mediation Blog

Jeff Thompson

The San Francisco Police Department's Chief of Police, George Gascon, recently met with the local Community Board to praise their efforts in helping resolve disputes.

According Gascon, "Generally, the solutions that come out of the criminal justice system aren't very good," while he praised their mediation program. [
read the article here]

As the article states, just about every town, city, and state are facing budget issues and an "outside the box" collaborative approach between Police Departments and community groups that offer mediation services, many of which are for free, can among many things help alleviate the burden of police responses to complaints. These complaints include noise and neighbor disputes.

Lorig Charkoudian did a study a five years ago detailing how the Baltimore Police Department's program to refer disputes to community mediation centers actually saved the department money. You can read about the study [
here].

Among many benefits offered to police departments creating these collaborative initiatives include helping remove the feeling of helplessness on behalf of the the person making the complaint and the police stating they can not do anything/what the person wanted them to do since the alleged crime was not committed in the officer's presence.

Additionally, i think it opens the opportunity for the police departments to establish relationships with the local dispute resolution centers which can result in potential trainings and workshops for the officers to enhance their conflict resolution skills.

Biography


Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.

Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.

He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.

(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)



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