The Los Angeles Police Department has launched a mediation program that would bring officers who have been accused of racial profiling face-to-face with their accusers.
Participants on both sides will be voluntary, and volunteers trained by city officials will serve as neutral mediators during the conversation. Officers accused of racial profiling who have participated in the session in good faith will have their internal investigation by the department closed. However officers with two prior complaints within the previous year will not be eligible for case dismissal.
The goal of the Community-Employee Mediation Pilot Program is to provide an opportunity for the officers and the accusers to “stand in each other’s shoes," LAPD Commander Rick Webb told the Los Angeles Times.
The initiative, which was unanimously approved by the Police Commission, is part of the LAPD’s effort to address a problem that amasses in hundreds of accusations and complaints each year.
Department records have shown that in several thousand cases throughout consecutive years, no officer accused of racial profiling was found guilty. However as criticism of the department’s track record mounted, Chief Charlie Beck has implemented reforms on how racial-profiling cases are handled, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Under Beck’s approach, instead of trying to pinpoint if an officer acted out of racial bias, the team of investigators now looks at the more concrete question of whether the accused officer has violated the person’s constitutional rights.
"I am hopeful and optimistic," Commissioner John Mack, an advocate for change in the department’s approach to racial profiling, told the Los Angeles Times. "I think there is a lot of potential here. It could really offer the opportunity to help resolve some of these issues."
Los Angeles is now among other cities like San Francisco to try mediation to relieve tension between officers and people who believe they have been targeted unfairly.
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