The City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) have launched a pilot program with the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) to provide mediation of select police misconduct complaints filed with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) and the CPD Bureau of Internal Affairs (BIA). The pilot program, which provides an alternative to the traditional complaint investigation, is the outcome of engagement with Chicago residents, community leaders, police officers and stakeholders.

Guided by research and analysis gathered from public forums, surveys, focus groups, social media platforms, and other community engagement efforts, the City and CCR developed a mediation model that will be used to address select complaints with the intention of finding a resolution in a more expedited manner.

The types of complaints to be mediated will include allegations related to perceived bias in policing, failure to provide appropriate service, unnecessary physical conduct, and unprofessionalism. COPA will screen eligible complaints, notify the parties when their case is eligible for mediation, refer them to CCR for mediation, and close cases upon successful mediation. The pilot mediation model will be conducted with specific outcomes in mind, including efficiency, transparency, procedural justice, and restorative justice —and will incorporate continuous opportunities for community involvement.

The 2019 Consent Decree, which both the State of Illinois and City of Chicago have entered into, requires the City to undertake certain reforms including developing a program for community mediation of complaints.

"Mediation plays two critical roles," said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Elena Gottreich. "From a legal perspective, it gives the parties the opportunity to resolve disputes in a less confrontational manner. Through this process, the second role of mediation serves to foster compassion and empathy between the parties as they work together to create equitable solutions."

Cassie Lively, CCR Executive Director, notes, "Community-police mediation programs across the country have demonstrated the potential for one-on-one dialogue to transform perceptions for both civilians and officers and to create connections that repair harm and build trust. Chicago’s program will be a model for other jurisdictions looking at creating similar initiatives."

This community mediation pilot program, which began on October 1, 2022, will review select categories of complaints to assess and evaluate how to implement a police-community mediation program on a larger scale. After the pilot closes on March 31, 2023, evaluations will be compiled and reviewed. Officers, community members and other stakeholders will be engaged to share their feedback on the program.