Police-Citizen Mediation Training

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Laura Elliott, Media Representative/Jefferson County Mediation Services 303-913-2408 lauraelliott1@earthlink.net Jefferson County to Provide Important Community-Police Mediation Training Meeting metro-wide interest and need, Jefferson County Mediation Services offering course to professional mediators Golden, CO (April 11, 2016) Jefferson County Mediation Services (JCMS) announces it will partner with Denver-based OvalOptions to train professional mediators in the specialized area of police-citizen conflict resolution – in response to the growing needs between citizens and law enforcement to manage disputes and conduct effective mediation. The two-day training takes place May 5-6th  at the Jefferson County District Attorney’s building and will be conducted by consultants from Range Mediation & Consulting – a Portland Oregon-based firm offering police-citizen mediation training, among other services.  Conflict Consultants Louise Nielson and Juanita Range provide community-police mediation training in Oregon as well as the Denver area and will bring their specialized learning tools and materials to Jefferson County for the two-day training course.  Officers from local Jeffco municipalities, including Golden and Wheat Ridge, are slated to be on hand for authentic role-playing scenarios. Some areas of Colorado, including the City of Denver, have professional mediators trained in managing citizen-police disputes. Within Jeffco, the Wheat Ridge Police Department and Jeffco Sheriff’s Office already offer mediation for officers as an option when members of the public file complaints against them. JCMS Executive Director Mark Loye would like more police departments to offer mediation between citizens and their employees and wants to increase the number of cases his agency manages. “Conflict between citizens and law enforcement can happen anywhere. We want the public to know that we are meeting...

How Mediation Services Began in Jefferson County, Colorado

In 1993, Jefferson County’s population was growing, especially in the mountains. Suzanne Bierbrauer, then director of Jefferson County Animal Control, was noticing repeated calls from the same people about the same dogs. She had heard about Boulder’s mediation program, and asked, “Why not us?” Mark Loye had been the Aggregate Coordinator (instrumental in licensing mines and gravel pits) for Jeffco since 1987, and had done a lot of mediation and facilitation in that capacity. Brian Boatwright was a Deputy District Attorney who was interested in the idea of mediation in Jeffco, because he saw many cases going to court that could have been settled earlier. The County Commissioners appointed these three people as a committee to check out the possibilities, and Loye headed the committee. They began talking to people in other community mediation programs, such as Kon Damas in Boulder. The committee proposed to begin a mediation program, and to incorporate Mediation Services into Loye’s job, as one-quarter of his responsibilities. Enter a new administration, which didn’t see the need for the Aggregate Coordinator position, and de-funded the job. They offered Loye a contract at 40 hours per month to develop and coordinate a new community mediation program. This contract included office space and a phone. To buy a computer and fund training for 10 mediators, Loye spoke to D.A. Dave Thomas and Sheriff Ron Beckham, each of whom contributed $5,000. Loye also spoke to Tom Giacinti, then Director of Community Corrections, as that seemed the most logical department to include mediation, because it was working to keep people out of the formal justice/ incarceration system. Loye cut...

Why Don’t People Talk to Each Other?

At Jefferson County Mediation Services (JCMS), we offer free mediation to help people resolve conflicts with each other.  (A mediator is a neutral person trained to help people talk about things without giving opinions or advocating for either side.) Conflicts may occur for many reasons, but for any conflict, the question can be asked: “Why don’t these people just approach each other for a conversation?” Over the nearly twenty-two years JCMS has served as a Community Mediation program, our staff and volunteers have heard many answers to this question.  Because neighbors lead fast-paced lives and don’t see each other over the back fence anymore, they imagine all sorts of motives and characteristics about their neighbors.  Here are some of them: Insanity: “Those people are crazy!”  (Or alcoholics or drug addicts). Evil intent:  “They want to see me arrested!” Unreasonableness: “They’ll never agree to anything, so what’s the point?” Belief in the law:  “They need a judge to tell them what to do!” Unreliability:  “They’d never keep any agreement we make.” Biased assumptions: “People like that can’t be reasoned with!” Ageism:  Those old (or young) people just don’t understand me!” Unfounded beliefs: “I know _________ about those people.” (Often, what is “known” isn’t true.) Common cause with other neighbors: “Everyone thinks they’re troublemakers!” Fear: “For all I know, if I complain he’d kill me!”   The list goes on – these are really just a few of the things we hear.  All of them are given as reasons not to take that step and walk next door to have a talk.   Other factors also come into play.  Most people...