I had the opportunity to participate in the first mediated complaint for the NOPD. The mediation was conducted by the Office of the Independent Police Monitor. The actual subject of the mediation and the discussions are confidential. However, the process seemed reasonable and the outcome was fair.
My suggestion to all officers is to call me if you have the opportunity to participate in a mediation. I will be happy to share my thoughts on whether it is beneficial to participate in the mediation or to discuss the proceedings in greater detail. I am also available to accompany officers to mediations.
Certain complaints made to the NOPD will be eligible for participation in the mediation process. These complaints will be limited to minor, citizen initiated complaints. Rank initiated complaints will not be eligible for participation in the mediation process. Generally, these mediations will likely be limited to complaints of professionalism and courtesy.
Once the complaint is received by PIB, they will examine the complaint to see if it meets the eligibility criteria for mediation. If it meets the eligibility criteria, it is forwarded to the OIPM. Sister Alison McCrary is charged with administering the mediation program for the OIPM. Sister Alison will contact the complainant and the officer to ask if both would be willing to participate in the mediation process. Participation in the mediation process is voluntary for all parties.
If all parties agree to participate in the mediation process, the complainant agrees to withdraw the complaint. For the purposes of NOPD disciplinary records, the complaint will be listed as withdrawn. Once all of the necessary forms are signed, the mediation will be scheduled.
The mediation is conducted at a neutral location. If officers are off-duty at the scheduled mediation time, they should clock in before going to the neutral location (it is compensable time).
Each party (complainant and officer) is allowed to bring one support person. For the complainant, this might be his or her mother, sister, brother, friend, etc. For the officer, the support person could include a relative, a fellow officer, or your friendly FOP Attorney. The support person is a silent participant in the mediation process. However, caucus breaks are allowed where the officer or the complainant can consult with his or her support person.
Generally, mediations are expected to last approximately 60-90 minutes. The first mediation lasted close to 90 minutes. The mediation itself consists of a mediated discussion between the mediators, the complainant, and the officer. As I noted above, the support people are encouraged not to participate in the actual mediation.
Once the mediation is concluded, everyone goes about their business. Regardless of the outcome of the mediation, the complaint is withdrawn as long as the officer participates in the process. There is no record of the actual discussion. There is no recording of the actual discussion. The mediators notes are destroyed following the mediation. All parties and support persons are required to sign a confidentiality agreement before the mediation starts.
With one mediation under our belts, it is probably a little early to make generalizations about the process. However, based on this one mediation, I found the process to be fair and productive. While I think the officer would have likely been found not sustained or exonerated in this particular complaint, the mediation process was faster and withdrawn is certainly not a bad disposition for a complaint (withdrawn complaints do not adversely effect promotional or transfer opportunities).
In this case, the officer was satisfied with the outcome of the mediation. The complainant seemed satisfied with the outcome of the mediation. I am grateful for being able to participate in the first mediation.
For future reference, I think that all offers of mediation received by officers should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Officers are welcome to contact me with any questions or to discuss their particular cases. Finally, I am available to attend mediations involving FOP members.