Citizens Police Review Board adds appeals to mediation process

Thursday, March 13, 2014 | 10:35 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Citizens Police Review Board tweaked the police mediation program Thursday morning so residents can appeal the program's decisions.

Residents can file a complaint if they think a police officer acted unprofessionally. The Citizens Police Review Board reviews the complaints and sends them to mediation if necessary. Mediation was created as an alternative to full investigations by the police department, according to previous Missourian reporting

A city ordinance requires the board to establish a mediation process, but it doesn't outline how the process should work.

The program does not review use-of-force complaints, which are handled within the Columbia Police Department.

Burton's view

Police Chief Ken Burton said that he wanted mediation to be the final step in the complaint process.

If residents could continue pursuing their complaint after mediation, he said, then his officers wouldn't be motivated to engage in the mediation sessions.

The board's view

The board said ending the complaint process with mediation could possibly leave the person who filed the complaint feeling as if they didn't get justice for how they were treated. 

The compromise

For six months after the start of the program, people who file complaints will be able to appeal the decision.

The board plans to meet with Burton again in September to review how the process has been working.

Other topics discussed

  •  Burton told the board that police would begin classifying all complaints as equally important, instead of classifying them based on the type of misconduct.
  • The board will now receive a secured file from Burton containing all the complaints that the department has received, rather than only the complaints the department is investigating.

  • A complaint may be filed up to a year after the incident, but Burton said the police department doesn't have enough resources to keep building videos for more than 30 days and car videos for more than 90 days. The board agreed to changing the language on police department literature to reflect this.

The next meeting is scheduled for April 9.

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.

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John Clark March 14, 2014 | 12:08 p.m.

It seems that Chief Burton would like to have an arbitration process, with a final decision, not mediation, which is part of a process that might result in a mutually supported outcome/decision. I suggest the discussion continue about the merits of arbitration vs mediation. I can understand why CPD officers might want arbitration, but I doubt that an arbitrated decision would do much to improve community trust in CPD or CPD trust in the community it serves.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 14, 2014 | 12:46 p.m.

"The board said ending the complaint process with mediation could possibly leave the person who filed the complaint feeling as if they didn't get justice for how they were treated."

So what? You could get the same outcome at the US Supreme Court if you carry it far enough.

There eventually has to be a "The End".

Most often, someone is going to end up unhappy. The person filing the complaint is not necessarily the one who has to be happy at the end. The mechanism for creating a "The End" must NOT revolve around making a complainant happy. All other citizens of Columbia have a dog in the fight, too. Within the limits defined by our national and state Constitutions, it's the citizens of Columbia who decide our police policies and behaviors.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 16, 2014 | 5:28 p.m.

Michael said, "There eventually has to be "The End."

This is correct - providing one is dealing with rational people; for some irrational people there IS no end. When they don't obtain the result they want they start whining for a change in the process.

[What a weather weekend! Seventy degress, sunny, and with practically no wind in Rolla on Saturday, and below freezing and a certifiable blizzard between Moberly and Kirksville Sunday morning.]

(Report Comment)

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