As issues about race and racial profiling become more of a frequent topic of conversation across America, an announcement on Tuesday from the Los Angeles Police Department represents a step in the right direction.
The LAPD is launching a three-year voluntary mediation program that allows LAPD officers to come face to face with members of the public who accuse them of racial profiling, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The program, called the Community-Employee Mediation Pilot Program, provides a chance for the officers and the accusers to “stand in each other’s shoes," according to LAPD Commander Rick Webb.
Each party will be able to meet to discuss the profiling incident with each other in conversations mediated by a third party volunteer from the City Attorney’s office, according to a memo the LAPD provided to The Huffington Post.
The pilot program is a major step for a police department with a history of complaints and criticisms around racial profiling and bias. The Los Angeles Times cites most bias complaints stem from traffic or pedestrian stops.
Mediation sessions are targeted to complaints that “do not involve use of force, criminal misconduct or injuries to any involved parties” according to the notes from Commander Webbs conversation with the Board. According to the LAPD memo, a successful mediation is defined as "a process in which the parties have heard, clarified and understood the issues and each other's point of view." The result may either be an agreement or an agreement to disagree, with participants not required to reach a formal resolution.
Police Commissioner John Mack tells the Times that he is “hopeful and optimistic” about the program. "I think there is a lot of potential here. It could really offer the opportunity to help resolve some of these issues."