The Boston Police Department is in the last stages of creating a program to address citizen complaints against police officers. The program would attempt to resolve disputes through mediation. Organizers hope to improve police/citizen relations, and to help clear some of the backlog of citizen complaints in Boston that may take 400 days or more to resolve.
The program is anticipated to involve the police department, three police unions and the Harvard Mediation Program at Harvard Law School. At this time, the unions still need to approve the program policy. Mediators would include Harvard Law School students and local residents trained in dispute resolution. They would handle moderate disputes from the Boston PD Internal Affairs department, such as “rudeness, unprofessional conduct and abusive language.”
Mediations would take place on neutral territory away from the police department. Most cases would conclude in a day, and the Harvard Mediation Program would supply mediators at no charge. Internal Affairs would continue to manage more serious complaints.
Police departments in several other major cities including Washington DC, New York City, Denver and San Francisco already have similar third-party mediation programs.