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Office of Police Complaints

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Mediation Testimonials

“If both participants walk out with a better understanding of each other's perspective, are police-citizen relations not improved?  The police officer can use this feedback to guide his or her future conduct, and the citizen can appreciate why police officers need to behave in ways a citizen may find offensive or intrusive.  If people understanding each other better and acting accordingly avoids the need for an arrest, or a shooting, or an ensuing riot, hasn't a problem been solved or prevented?” - OPC Mediator

"Thank you for your assistance with my recent complaint. Your hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated. I published an article about my experience:" - Melanie Bates

"Yesterday I had a supervised mediation session with [Subject Officer] which, as the "victim" I agreed to participate in reluctantly. It started as a yelling match and exchange of threats between the officer and me but after an hour ended on a very conciliatory note. We even agreed to participate in a future social activity together in which we discovered we have a mutual interest. I am very pleased and recommend mediation as a substitute for traditional hearings/trials in which the end goal is punishment. Thank you for arranging it." - Anonymous

Mediation Program

Mediation is an efficient and effective alternative dispute resolution process that the Office of Police Complaints chooses for some of the complaints filed with the agency. All mediation sessions are facilitated by an independent, unbiased third party mediator. The mediator guides the complainant and the subject officer through a conversation about the incident that led to the complaint with the goal of reaching a common understanding between the parties.  Mediations are scheduled for one two-hour session. 

Notification of Mediation Referral
If a formal complaint is referred to mediation, the Office of Police Complaints will notify the complainant by letter informing them their complaint has been referred to an independent mediation contractor who will contact the complainant to schedule a mediation date.

Mediations are Confidential
All discussions during a mediation session are strictly confidential and parties must agree to this confidentiality before beginning a mediation session.  As a result, the participation of other people in the mediation session is very rarely allowed.  Anyone who accompanies a complainant or subject officer to the mediation session will be asked to wait in the lobby of the Office of Police Complaints. 

Mediation Participants
Both the complainant and the Metropolitan Police Department or D.C. Housing Authority subject officer must participate in good faith in the mediation process.  Failure of the complainant to participate in good faith may lead to dismissal of the complaint.  Failure of the subject officer to participate in good faith may lead to discipline.  If a subject officer refuses to attend the mediation session, the Chief of Police has the authority to discipline the subject officer.  However, neither the complainant nor the subject officer is required to reach an agreement during mediation.

The Office of Police Complaints' mediations are conducted by a pool of well-trained, experienced, and diverse mediators.  Mediators may work individually or in pairs.  Each mediator is approved by the Police Complaints Board, the governing body of the Office of Police Complaints and is trained to serve as an independent, unbiased third party who helps the parties talk through and resolve their differences. Mediators fulfill this role by listening to both parties’ sides of the incident asking questions to clarify what happened and identify central issues and helping keep the discussion non-threatening and productive.

Mediation Outcomes
In many cases, after the parties have had a chance to explain their perspective regarding the incident that led to the complaint, and hear from the other party, this increased understanding is sufficient to resolve the complaint.  There are no limits to reach an agreement.  Although both parties are required to participate in good faith in the mediation, all agreements are totally voluntary and must be agreed to by both parties.  Failure to reach an agreement has no impact on any later consideration of the complaint.  However, if an agreement is not reached between the parties, the complaint is referred back to the Office of Police Complaints to determine if the merits of the complaint warrant further investigation or dismissal.

Translation Services
The Office of Police Complaints will provide translation services to assist non-English speaking individuals during a mediation session, if requested.

Mediation Location
Mediation sessions are conducted at the Office of Police Complaints located at 1400 I Street, NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005.  For more information, please call 202-727-3838.

Mediation Examples

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