-
-
1 Sparrow, Malcolm.  The Regulatory Craft.  
Brookings Institution, C. 2000.  Page 311.
Mediation and
Conflict Resolution
by Bill Chipman
One major risk leaps out in public
perception of the Law Enforcement
profession.  That risk is the first one that
is likely to be encountered by line
employees of regulatory and enforcement
agencies, and that is what occurs at their
first encounter with the community they
regulate.  

Many of the relationships that are
established between these two groups
are tainted by the initial encounter.  This
problem is twofold.  The first part is
demonstrated by the way some police
officers can enter a situation and achieve
a resolution with much less difficulty than
others, based in large part on the
manner in which they approach their
dealings with others.  Some officers can
make an arrest of an unruly subject with
little or no fanfare or injury, while others
become embroiled in a physical
confrontation that draws attention and
sometimes ends up getting people hurt.  

The second part is due to much of the
analysis that has been produced in the
current national examination of racial
profiling, and some of the proposed
remedies for dealing with it and training
officers to deal with this problem and the
public perception that results.  

Through examination of these situations,
it is evident that better mediation/conflict
resolution training could have prevented
some of these problems.  

Conflict resolution training could have a
positive effect on these relationships.  
The differences between cooperative and
competitive bargainers are very evident in
the behavior of police officers.  They call
them by many different names, but both
types could benefit from the awareness
that there are two general types of
approaches to conflict negotiation.  They
would also be helped to know that there
are some techniques for recognizing
these types and how to avoid vicious
cycles and change vicious cycles into
virtuous cycles.  

The tendency for distributive situations
to develop into vicious cycles evidences
itself often when police officers assume
that the situation is ‘win or lose' and
enter them determined not to lose.  
These situations often have the potential
to be addressed as integrative situations,
and could have resolutions that would
benefit not only the community
members, but also the police officers.  
Resolutions leaving all parties happier
would be likely to result in less citizen
complaints, less altercations between
police officers and those they encounter,
as well as less curtailment of the lives of
community members.  

This is an attempt at positively effecting
one of the more “intractable problems of
regulatory practice:  how to manage
discretion…”  In providing more tools for
the regulatory craftsman, I believe that
the solutions they offer will often more
closely tailor to the problem they
identify.  Providing frameworks for
recognizing patterns and likely outcomes
will also allow them to more effectively
identify these risks.  Knowledge
concerning how to deal with difficult
issues, ones that cannot be dealt with by
simple solutions, is necessary in order to
deal with a higher order of problems.   
-
Police Author
Bill Chipman
Bill Chipman is is a
twenty-two year veteran of
Massachusetts Law Enforcement
agencies.  A graduate of the University
of Massachusetts at Amherst, Bill
holds a Master's Degree in Public
Administration from Harvard's
Kennedy School of Government, with
areas of concentration in Leadership
and Conflict Resolution.
Copyright © 2016  Barry M. Baker  
CareerPoliceOfficer.com