In July 2000, the City of Albany enacted a new law creating the Citizens' Police Review Board. As part of that law, the City authorized the creation of a mediation program designed to provide an opportunity for citizens and police officers to sit down with two mediators in a neutral setting to discuss the issues raised in the complaint filed by the citizen.
The Government Law Center of Albany Law School80 New Scotland AvenueAlbany, New York 12208Telephone: 518-445-2329Fax: 518-445-2303
How does the mediation option work?Who are the mediators?What happens in a mediation?How long will it take?How is confidentiality assured?Can the parties talk about what occurred there?What if we don't reach an agreement?What if we reach an agreement?What if a large group of citizens want to talk about the incident?
Once the Chief of Police indicates that it would be permissible for an officer(s) to participate in a mediation regarding the complaint, a letter will automatically be sent from the Government Law Center to both the Complainant and the officer(s) offering the option of scheduling mediation.Top
Mediators are trained to assist parties in reaching a resolution that addresses the issues raised by either side in the mediation session itself. The mediators are all certified, with experience in community or family mediation cases, and are carefully selected so that their skills and backgrounds best meet the needs of the parties at the mediation table. The role of the mediators is not to determine who is right and who is wrong. They are not there to function as decision makers; they are impartial third parties without any vested interest in the outcome.Top
The mediation itself will occur as soon as possible once the determination is made that the case is appropriate for mediation. The parties will be contacted so that the process can be explained, questions can be answered, available dates and times determined. Once a mutually convenient date and time are determined by the mediation director, two mediators will be assigned to the case.
The mediation process is both voluntary and confidential. If either party feels he or she needs assistance, such as an interpreter or an advocate, accommodations can be made. The mediators themselves are neutral, without any stake in the outcome or agreement of the process, except to make sure that it is fair, that all parties are heard and that their issues are placed on the table. The mediation can be stopped at any time by either party.Top
Most mediations take two hours. If another session is necessary, the mediators and the parties can schedule another time to meet.Top
According to the Code of the City of Albany, "Statements and records disclosed during mediation may not be disclosed or introduced in evidence during any judicial or administrative proceeding, and mediators may not be compelled by a subpoena to give testimony or produce anything related to the mediation." Section 42-346. In addition, the mediators have signed a confidentiality agreement.Top
That is an issue that the parties at the mediation table need to talk about and agree to. That can be part of their agreement. The mediators however are precluded from speaking to anyone but the Program Director about what was discussed, and even the Director is bound by the confidentiality of the mediation.Top
The CPRB review process will continue to conclusion.
When an agreement is reached, it will be put in writing and signed by the parties. A letter will be transmitted to the CPRB and to the Office of Professional Standards indicating
only that an agreement was reached. The CPRB will issue a finding that the case was resolved by "Mediation." The original agreement will be retained by the Program Director and kept in a locked file. No one but the Director will have access to this agreement.
The CPRB through its panel of mediators can provide skilled facilitators/mediators to assist with larger groups who want to sit down with the police officer(s) involved in a particular incident.