(Washington, DC) The District of Columbia’s Office of Police Complaints (OPC) recently attained a milestone in March by completing its 300th mediation session as part of a successful program that brings together citizen complainants and officers accused of police misconduct.
Since 2001, when the agency opened, OPC has brought together members of the public and officers of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in mediation sessions that have addressed a variety of police misconduct allegations. The goal is for the parties to work together to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of the complaint, without the stress of investigations and hearings that the participants might otherwise experience.
The mediation process involves a confidential, face-to-face meeting between the citizen who filed the complaint and the officer involved in the encounter. The sessions are conducted by a pool of well-trained and experience individuals.
Parties have reached agreements in more than 75% of all cases mediated. Agreements have ranged from mutual exchanges of apologies to officers committing to attend sensitivity or diversity training courses. As a matter of policy, the agency does not mediate complaints alleging the use of unnecessary or excessive force resulting in physical injury.
In fiscal year 2010, the most recent full year for which data are available, the agency resolved 27 complaints, or nearly 9% of all cases, through mediation.
Results of survey participants show the agency’s mediation program to be very popular. In fiscal year 2010, 97.6% of complainants and subject officers who responded found the mediator to be helpful or very helpful, 88% found the mediation session to be satisfactory or very satisfactory, and 96% found the resulting agreement to be fair or very fair.
The success of OPC’s police-citizen mediation program has gained attention throughout the United States and overseas. Over the years, the agency’s mediation program has been featured at conferences around the country and in Canada. In response to inquiries, OPC has also provided information about its program to representatives of governments from Brazil, the Republic of Ireland, and Israel, among other places.
“We are pleased that our agency’s mediation program has become a national -- and even international -- model,” said Philip K. Eure, OPC’s executive director. “Since mediation plays an important role in enhancing community-police relations, we can expect to see continued improvements in policing in the nation’s capital.”
For more information about OPC and its mediation program, visit our website at www.policecomplaints.dc.gov.