Denver’s Office of Independent Monitor is referring a a growing number of police-misconduct allegations to mediation, making it one of the most active police mediation programs in the U.S., reports the Denver Post. Richard Rosenthal, the independent monitor, said the program is the essence of community-oriented policing. “This is the only kind of formal way to bring community members and officers together to talk about their problems,” he said. In the past year, the city has brought officers and their accusers together in library rooms, community centers, and city offices to hash out complaints under the guidance of professional mediators.
The cases assigned for mediation range from racial-profiling complaints to an accusation that an officer providing off-duty security failed to help a dog locked in a car. Citizens and police who have gone through the program praise it, saying talking face to face is far better than the impersonal system that existed before when complaints were handled by the department’s internal-affairs officers. Surveys show that 74.5 percent of citizens were dissatisfied with the old discipline process and 63.7 percent of the police officers were dissatisfied. Of the nearly 40 cases handled through mediation last year, only 15.9 percent of citizens and 10.9 percent of officers expressed dissatisfaction.