New Mediation Pilot Program for Citizens Police Review Board Members

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COLUMBIA - Citizens Police Review Board Members met at City Hall Saturday afternoon to discuss police oversight concerns across the Show-Me state.

Speakers in charge of Columbia's new mediation pilot program, James Martin and Betty Wilson, announced the program aims to resolve police oversight complaints more efficiently. The program will require issues to be discussed with a mediation coordinator, a police officer and the complainant present. Wilson said this will also be less costly. 

The program received a grant from city council for $15,000 to help hire mediation coordinators.

The purpose of the board is to hear the public's complaints about police performance. If a citizen wants to file a complaint, Wilson said they first have to file it with the city clerk. Wilson and Martin said they want the public to consider them as a transparent board, open to any concerns. She said the board will also look at additional evidence that wasn't brought up initially.

"We believe that mediation is the direction that will most satisfy the complaints of citizens that they might bring toward police at the inital stages," Wilson said. "So that before things get worse, the conflict can be resolved on the ground floor level."

The board will have the power to make a recommendation to the police chief based on whether they agree with the chief's decision about complaints.