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Fiscal Year 2002 Mediation: Inappropriate Use of Language and Conduct

The citizen filed a complaint against two police officers citing inappropriate use of language and conduct. The citizen explained in her complaint that one morning two officers not in uniform appeared at her door and asked to enter her house to ask a series of questions. The citizen became anxious thinking that the officers were possibly bandits attempting to gain entrance into her house. She immediately called 911 and the officers retreated from the door but began circling around the house, peering into the windows. The citizen maintained that the officers violated protocol by making a high pressured attempt to enter her home.

During the mediation session, the citizen was still visibly upset from the incident. She explained that over the course of the past several months, there had been a series of incidents in her neighborhood of thieves impersonating officers and was thus frightened when the officers arrived in plain clothes at her door. She explained that her neighbors witnessed the incident and called repeatedly asking if everything was okay. She felt embarrassed and humiliated. The officers, on the other hand, explained that they were following police procedure. They explained that they were from the warrant squad and had authorization to ask her questions about the identity of an individual who in the police records shared her address. They further explained that as part of police protocol, officers often circle around to the back of the house to make certain that no individuals in the house are making an effort to escape.

As a result of the mediation the officers gained a better understanding of the citizen’s concerns when they approached her at the house and the citizen learned about the protocol warrant squad officers must follow to protect their safety and the safety of the neighborhood.  The officers and citizen signed an agreement acknowledging that the mediation process resolved the issues pertaining to the complaint. The agreement also contained a written statement from the officers apologizing to the citizen for disturbing her and for inconveniencing her at the time of the incident.