Many people who file complaints at the CCRB
would prefer to resolve their complaints by talking to an
officer face-to-face rather than seeking an investigation
and possible disciplinary action against the officer. For
those complainants, the CCRB offers mediation as an alternative
way of resolving complaints.
What is Mediation?
At the CCRB, mediation is one way a civilian can resolve the
complaint he or she filed against a New York City police officer(s).
Mediation offers you and the officer the opportunity to sit
down at a table in a comfortable, quiet, and private space
and talk about the incident that led to the complaint. You
won’t be alone with the officer—at least one neutral mediator
will be with you. Mediators are trained professionals experienced
in conducting mediations; it is their job to structure the
discussion between you and the officer so that you and the
officer communicate with each other effectively. The more
the officer listens to what you have to say and the more you
listen to what the officer has to say, the more likely it
is that you and the officer will come away with a better understanding
of the incident. A successful mediation occurs when both you
and the officer agree that the issues raised by the incident
and complaint have been resolved.
What Happens in Mediation?
At a mediation session, you and the officer meet with a mediator
in a private office or conference room at the CCRB. Before
the session begins, the mediator will ask you and the officer
to sign a confidentiality and consent agreement. By signing
the confidentiality and consent agreement, you and the officer
agree that anything you or the officer say for the first time
during the mediation is confidential. This agreement protects
the mediator from being called to testify in any future legal
proceeding. After the agreement is signed, the mediator will
explain the mediation process and set ground rules for both
you and the officer to follow in order to facilitate discussion.
The mediator will ask both you and the officer to describe
what happened the day of the incident. The mediator is not
a judge, and will not be determining who is right or wrong.
The mediator will speak with both you and the officer, asking
questions where necessary, to assist you and the officer in
talking and listening to each other. You will be free to speak
your mind. You will be free to tell the officer just what
you thought was wrong about his or her behavior, and you're
also free to express how you felt about that behavior. At
the same time, the officer will be invited to respond to your
comments and might try to explain his or perception of the
incident and his or her actions. At some point, if you and
the officer decide that you have resolved the issues between
you, the mediator will ask you and the officer to sign a resolution
agreement. This agreement signifies that the complaint has
been resolved; the CCRB does not have to conduct any further
investigation. If you both sign the resolution agreement,
the mediator will give you a copy for your files. At that
point, the mediation is finished and is considered successful.
The CCRB will then close the complaint.
Who Are the Mediators?
The individuals who mediate cases for the CCRB are experienced
mediators. Some are attorneys, law professors, or college
professors. Those who are not attorneys have received extensive
training and conduct mediations for community dispute resolution
centers throughout New York State. The mediators who will
work with you at the CCRB are not CCRB employees or New York
City Police Department employees. The CCRB engages experienced
mediators for the express purpose of conducting mediation
When and Where does the Mediation take place?
All mediations take place at the CCRB’s offices on the second
floor of 40 Rector Street in lower Manhattan. The agency provides
a safe, private space for you to meet with the officer and
the mediator. There are many subway stops within a few blocks of the CCRB's office:
the 4 and 5 (Wall Street), the R (Rector Street), the 1 (Rector Street), the 2 and 3 (Wall
Street), the J and Z (Broad Street) and the A and C (Fulton
St. / Broadway-Nassau). The CCRB schedules mediations from
Monday through Friday at times that are convenient for you
and consistent with the officer’s schedule.
What Would I Get Out of Mediating
The most important thing you can get out of mediating your
complaint is satisfaction. You have the chance to tell the
officer why you were so upset with what the officer said or
did, and you have the opportunity to ask questions of the
officer. Of course, we can’t guarantee that the officer will
give you the answers you want, but you are free to ask. Nine
out of ten individuals who mediate their complaints resolve
them successfully. And most studies show that individuals
who mediate their complaints are more satisfied with the complaint
process than those whose complaints are investigated.
Why Should I Mediate Rather
than Have My Case Investigated?
To answer that question you need to ask yourself what you
want to achieve by filing and pursuing the complaint. If you
want the police department to punish or discipline the officer,
mediation is not for you. If you are filing a lawsuit against
the officer or the police department as a result of the incident,
mediation is not for you. If you want the summons you received
to be thrown out of court or voided, neither mediation nor
investigation will help you achieve that goal. But if you
filed your complaint with the idea that you’d like to talk
to the officer, you should mediate. If you were hoping to
educate the officer, you should mediate. If you’ve had recurring
problems with a particular officer, you should mediate, since
you can discuss all the issues you have with the officer,
not just the issues raised by a single complaint. If it’s
important to you to have as much control as possible over
the resolution of your complaint, you should mediate. If you
are concerned about whether you’ll be satisfied with how your
complaint is resolved, you should mediate. And if you’re seeking
to empower yourself by actively participating in the resolution
of your complaint, you should mediate.
What Cases Are Suitable for
The CCRB has set guidelines for determining what types of
complaints are appropriate for mediation. To begin with, a
complaint is not suitable for mediation if the officer allegedly
injured someone or damaged property, if the allegations stem
directly from an arrest, or if the officer has an extensive
complaint history. If these conditions are met, complaints
that can be mediated include those where the officer allegedly
used mild physical force, made threats, refused to identify
him or herself, stopped and questioned a civilian, and used
discourteous or offensive language.
If you have additional questions about the CCRB's
mediation program, please contact Lisa Grace Cohen, director
of mediation, at (212) 912-7201.