Standing in Each Other’s Shoes

26 Aug

The LA Police Department is trying an experiment … that involves mediation.

2-writing-ticket-for-blogAbout a month ago, the LA Police Commission approved a 3 year pilot program that gives an officer accused of ‘racial profiling’ and his accuser the option to come together in mediation – in certain cases.  Mediation could happen when a complaint is received, after a traffic or pedestrian stop, that a police officer singled out the person he/she pulled over only because of race, ethnicity, religious attire or some other outward appearance. ‘Racial profiling’ is also referred to as ‘biased policing.’

Cases with allegations of physical abuse, racial insults or other serious misconduct can’t go to mediation. Also officers with 2 previous complaints in a year are not eligible to participate. Of course, all other participation is entirely voluntary – one of the  basic tenets of mediation. And the program will used trained mediators who will help to guide them through the process.

There have been thousands of complaints in LA over the years and no officer was ever found guilty of racial profiling when the LAPD did an internal investigation. This statistic left many on the Police Commission frustrated and angry. One of the members, a civil rights leader, who pushed for changes to LAPD’s handling of these cases praised the mediation program. The union that represents rank and file officers is also supportive and is encouraging officers to participate.

LAPD Commander Rick Webb said that the hope is that officers and accusers can “stand in each others shoes.”

That is one of the greatest benefits of mediation … opening lines of communication. Perhaps it will happen in LA too. I bet it will.


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