St. Louis Police Mediation Of Minor Conflicts With Citizens Is Working


If you think a St. Louis 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, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The city’s 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 2011, said Lt. Scott Gardner, an internal affairs commander. In a sense, it's a grown-up version of settling fights on the school playground. “The main goal is to improve the relationship between the community and our policemen,” said Gardner, who decides which complaints go to mediation. “It brings people to the table.”

Issues resolved through mediation have included officers accused of screaming at people, having a bad attitude or speeding. Cases settled through mediation represent just a small fraction of allegations made against city police. Most are handled through internal affairs investigations. John Doggette, director of MediationSTL, a service offered by the Mennonite Peace Center of St. Louis, says the goal is to provide a safe and confidential alternative to formal inquiries. “It's an opportunity for them to have a conversation they would never have had in any other situation,” Doggette said. “The potential is phenomenal. People need an opportunity to have a civil discourse instead of getting upset.”

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