PolIce & Community Mediation

The San Francisco Police Department's Chief of Police, George Gascon, recently met with the local Community Board to praise their efforts in helping resolve disputes.

According Gascon, "Generally, the solutions that come out of the criminal justice system aren't very good," while he praised their mediation program. [
read the article here]

As the article states, just about every town, city, and state are facing budget issues and an "outside the box" collaborative approach between Police Departments and community groups that offer mediation services, many of which are for free, can among many things help alleviate the burden of police responses to complaints. These complaints include noise and neighbor disputes.

Lorig Charkoudian did a study a five years ago detailing how the Baltimore Police Department's program to refer disputes to community mediation centers actually saved the department money. You can read about the study [

Among many benefits offered to police departments creating these collaborative initiatives include helping remove the feeling of helplessness on behalf of the the person making the complaint and the police stating they can not do anything/what the person wanted them to do since the alleged crime was not committed in the officer's presence.

Additionally, i think it opens the opportunity for the police departments to establish relationships with the local dispute resolution centers which can result in potential trainings and workshops for the officers to enhance their conflict resolution skills.


  1. I love this post, Jeff. I work for Community Mediation (www.communitymediation.org), which was founded by Lorig Charkoudian in 1994, and I do some work with Lorig, so I'm glad to see you referencing her work. She is definitely a pioneer of community mediation here in Maryland.

    We actually have a partnership with the Baltimore City police that is funded through a grant(, thankfully). Two of our staff members work at two different police districts in the city. They go on ride-alongs with the officers, and when appropriate, they conduct on-the-spot pre-intake conversations with disputants and refer them to mediation. Officers love how this is helping to reduce repeat complaint calls to police, and the two police districts are becoming our second largest referral source for mediations. Although our work is grant-funded, I do believe that there are plenty of opportunities for innovative partnerships between community mediation centers and police that are still cost efficient.

  2. Rich,

    Thank you for your kind words.

    I have had the joy of speaking with Lorig about her research before.

    I did not know about the ride-along program currently being used. I would enjoy discussing this further with you. If you are interested please email me: mediator.jeff[at]gmail.com


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