Mediation and Conciliation

What is Mediation?

Mediation resolves conflicts that the community and the police may have about their interactions with each other. The mediation allows people to speak for themselves, hear what others have to say, and come to their own agreements about how to move forward from the situation. Mediation offers both department members and community members to discuss their interaction, share how it made them feel, and be fully heard and understood in a non-judgmental way.

In Kansas City, mediation is voluntary on the part of all parties.   A complainant may request a mediation with a Department member.  If all of the parties agree, a neutral third-party mediator not affiliated with the Department or the Office of Community Complaints will be retained to facilitate the mediation.

The mediators are not judges. Their job is to listen, ask questions, and try to clarify what is important to everyone involved. They don’t give advice, decide who is right or wrong, or take sides. Mediation is confidential. Nothing is recorded on any device. Mediators may be taking notes and they destroy those notes after the session. 

MEDIATION IS:

  • A voluntary and confidential process, where the community members and department members share how their interaction made each other feel.
  • A process facilitated by two professionally-trained mediators who are neutral and do not take sides with either party.
  • A participant-guided process that helps the community member and the officer come to a mutually agreeable solution which helps create mutual understanding and improve relationships.

MEDIATION IS NOT:

  • A process to determine who is right or wrong.  There are no judges.  No evidence is needed.
  • Designed to force people to shake hands, make up, or admit fault.  No pressure will be made to come to an agreement.  Sometimes the best outcome is to agree to disagree after everyone has listened respectfully.
  • A method of punishing either party.  The parties are in charge of their own process and outcome.  It will not be decided by an outside agency or person. 
  • Not a legal process.  There is no appeal, because mediation is voluntary by all parties.  As long as you come to the table in good faith, there will be no additional opportunities to resolve your complaint.

HOW DOES MEDIATION DIFFER FROM THE TRADITIONAL COMPLAINT INVESTIGATION PROCESS?

The traditional goal in a formal misconduct investigations is to determine if the officer violated departmental policy or procedure, and for the member to receive discipline if found to be in violation of a policy or procedure. Research has shown that discipline is not always the most effective tool in correcting behavior, changing attitudes, or holding people accountable for their actions to prevent future harm.

Alleged or perceived officer misconduct harms the community and officer’s ability to relate to each other.  While traditional discipline is an important and necessary tool to achieve this goal, mediation is a powerful tool to bring about a deeper and lasting change.  Mediation allows relationships to deepen and both participants have the opportunity to gain genuine understanding and a new ability to talk out and resolve conflict.  Mediation is more likely to improve relations between communities and police.  It is cost effective and allows for a more timely response to complaints. 

For more information about the Office’s mediation program, please contact Senior Legal Analyst Michael Walker at (816) 889-6646 or by e-mail at Michael.Walker@kcpd.org.