Westerlund proposes Public Safety Mediation Program

FRESNO, Calif.

Councilmember Larry Westerlund outlined a proposal for a new "Public Safety Mediation Program" modeled after a similar system in Denver, Colorado.

The program would provide the city with an alternative complaint-handling process that would allow community members and officers to sit down face-to-face and discuss their issue with a professional mediator.

Westerlund says 80 to 90 complaints are sent to the Internal Affairs division each year, and each case costs the city about a $1 thousand to investigate.

"You never get an opportunity to sit down and address your concerns, or how you feel about what took place, you never really get a chance to find out what happened, whether the officer got a letter of reprimand or some sort of discipline or just training," explained Westerlund.

So far the proposal has won support from Police Chief Jerry Dyer and Mayor Ashley Swearengin, but not everyone is onboard.

Swearengin said, "I think it's a concept people certainly understand the wisdom in adding this program to our compliment of tools we have to work with residents and I expect there to be good feedback from the council on Thursday."

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