Mediation Case Profiles

Domestic Dispute and Alleged Discourtesy

On July 27, 2010, Officer One and Officer Two responded to a call about two neighbors who were fighting. When they climbed to the fifth floor of the Bronx walk-up, they found Ms. Doe and Ms. Smith in the hallway screaming at each other. Ms. Doe’s 4-year old son, Jack, was also in the hallway. In her complaint to the CCRB, Ms. Doe alleged that Officer One yelled at her in an abusive tone and used profanity. She says he screamed “Get in your f***king apartment, or I am going to arrest you.” She agreed to mediation because she wanted to tell Officer One that it’s wrong to speak to people the way he did to her. Officer One also agreed to participate in a mediation session.

At the start of the mediation, Ms. Doe explained that she and Ms. Smith were arguing because Ms. Smith was banging on her door and “acting crazy” and that a neighbor had called the police. Ms. Doe said that it was traumatic enough just dealing with Ms. Smith whom she thought was on drugs, and then when Officer One started to yell at her she had had enough. Ms. Doe said she felt that the officer was taking Ms. Smith’s side and that the officer had no right to yell at her that way, especially in front of her son, Jack.

Then Officer One spoke. He said that when he got to the scene both women were screaming and pushing each other. He said he repeatedly told the women to go back to their apartments but they wouldn’t stop fighting. Officer One also said that Jack had started to cry and he felt the situation was escalating. Officer One explained to Ms. Doe that police procedure in these types of situations is to try to separate the parties and get them back to their apartments. Once things had quieted down, he had planned to speak to each woman separately. Officer One also explained that rather than taking Ms. Smith’s side, he was focusing on Ms. Doe because he perceived her to be the more rational of the two women. He told Ms. Doe that his primary concern was for her and her son’s safety.

Officer Doe’s repeated assertions about his concern for Ms. Doe’s and Jack’s safety shifted the focus of the mediation from the alleged obscenity and threat of arrest to a broader conversation about the intent of one’s actions versus how those actions are perceived. Officer Doe came to understand that although his intention was to protect the civilians by de-escalating the situation, Ms. Doe perceived his actions as disrespectful. Ms. Doe came to understand that the officer’s concern for her and her son’s safety were the reasons behind his actions and that he did not intend to disrespect her. Although no apologies were made, at the end of the mediation Ms. Doe extended her hand and thanked Officer One for his time. Both parties signed a resolution agreement and the CCRB closed the case as mediated.