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Mediators work to help settle disputes with police officers

James Regier, Community Mediation Services of St. Louis' mediation coordinator, and John Doggette, the organization's executive director, talk to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh about mediation on March 18, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio.
Alex Heuer
/
St. Louis Public Radio
James Regier, Community Mediation Services of St. Louis' mediation coordinator, and John Doggette, the organization's executive director, talk to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh about mediation on Wednesday at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.

Sometimes you need a person in the middle — an impartial mediator.

Community Mediation Services of St. Louis helps people talk about and resolve their differences.

“The key thing for us is to be able to show people that we are whole-body listening,” Community Mediation Executive Director John Doggette told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Wednesday. “When we are managing a mediation or facilitation, what we’re in fact doing are giving people an opportunity to be heard in a safe manner — in a manner where they believe they can express what they feel and that they can be listened to and that the other parties can listen.”

All of Community Mediation’s mediators are volunteers, and its services are offered free of charge. It’s also the only local group with a program to mediate matters between citizens and St. Louis police officers.  

“A citizen and a police officer in the city of St. Louis can agree to sit down and voluntarily facilitate or mediate when there is a complaint against an officer by the citizen which is disrespect,” Doggette said. “It’s a very difficult kind of mediation.”

It’s also similar to the work the group has recently taken on in Ferguson.

“The objectives that we had was to be able to assist the residents who had their groups who were meeting regularly to be able to integrate officers back into conversation safely,” he said.

Mediation may be a viable alternative to a lawsuit, Doggette said. Sometimes, though, it’s not possible to get people to listen to each other and come up with solutions.

“I tell folks that mediation again is in some ways very successful, and in some cases is a Band-Aid,” he said.

For mediation assistance, call Community Mediation Services at 314-553-3550 or visit mediationstl.org.

“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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