Reducing Issues of Police Abuse Requires Law Enforcement's Use of Mediation and Collaboration, Says Mediation Expert

Oct 29, 2015, 16:34 ET from Mark Baer

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Police departments which have developed a collaborative relationship with their community, trained officers in mediation techniques and skills, improved screening of future hires, and utilized media consultants have experienced significant reductions of police abuse, according to award-winning mediation expert Mark Baer (

"For example, the Los Angeles Police Department has been recognized for its community policing effort known as 'Community Safety Partnership,' which was designed to improve relations between the Department and those it's meant to protect and serve.  The Cincinnati Police Department has been recognized for similar reasons and more.  The following are a few countries which have enacted such changes with regard to their law enforcement:  Germany, France, Sweden, Japan, and Liberia.  Each jurisdiction which has effectuated such changes has experienced very positive results," said Baer, who has worked in mediation since 2000.

"Although law enforcement officers are employees of whatever department happens to employ them, their job is ultimately to protect and serve the public.  Due to the manner in which officers are traditionally trained and the culture within the department in which they are employed, there is often an 'us versus them' mentality and approach to the fulfillment of their job duties.  This, in turn, results in distrust and negative attitudes between them and the community they are supposed to serve and protect," Baer continued. 

Baer feels it is also essential for law enforcement officers to learn mediation techniques.  A mediator is a conflict intervention specialist.  Law enforcement officers by definition deal with conflict; therefore, doesn't it make sense that they should know how to properly de-escalate it? 

Hostage negotiators use mediation techniques when negotiating with hostage takers.  If hostage negotiators conducted themselves in an adversarial manner, the hostage takers would almost certainly kill the hostages.  By the way, the same is true of traditional lawyering versus mediation and collaboration.  Traditional lawyering is adversarial and therefore tends to exacerbate conflict and increase distrust in order to obtain a result. 

"The LAPD has also improved its screening process and has therefore more effectively weeded out those not well-suited to perform the duties expected of those wearing its badge.  It's also made a concerted effort with regard to diversity within the department, which resembles the racial and ethnic makeup of the city itself," said Baer. 

The tragic consequences of traditional policing play out in the news day in and day out.  Moreover, in 2010 alone, the costs associated with civil judgments and settlements related to police misconduct were $346,512.800, according to the CATO Institute.  For similar reasons, the damage caused by traditional lawyering is to interpersonal relationships, family dynamics, and draining of finances, among other things. 

As Baer says, "Outcomes are typically determined by the way in which the 'game' is designed.  Therefore, shouldn't things be designed to achieve a more desired outcome?"

To speak with Mark Baer, please contact Mark Baer (310) 396-6090


SOURCE Mark Baer