Empowerment by Police

Stephen Thom

CRS Mediator, Los Angeles Office

[Full Interview]

Another thing we have found is that -- I've done a lot of police training lately in mediation -- we find two patterns. One is that police are often trained to take control and to tell people what to do, and after they tell people what to do, they just want to leave. Where we think we need to focus for police officers is you've got to give some of the power to the parties to learn to come up with solutions, because that's the empowerment. If disputants can come up with options to their problems, they have choices and they make decisions, and if you make decisions, you have power to overcome obstacles. You are not helpless. Then police need to learn how to get a good closure. You need to have some way to say, "Look, do you agree to this, do you agree to that? If you can both live up to your word then we could avoid this dispute in the future. Can you do that?" At the same time the officer has taught the disputants how to solve problems. "Do you think you can do this by yourself next time?"