NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Department of Justice praised a New Orleans initiative that creates a dialogue between residents and police officers as a model for the rest of the country.
"It's imperative that we build trust and confidence and improve the relationships between community members and police because the violence in the city affects all of us," program director Alison McCrary said.
For a year, the New Orleans office of the Independent Police Monitor has conducted its community and police mediation program. The initiative brings police officers and members of the community together with a mediator to discuss any claim of possible misconduct face-to-face.
Officials with other cities and jurisdictions from around the country have contacted the IPM and McCrary to get advice on how to create a better dialogue in their communities.
"Relationships are crucial in everything, and it's really crucial in a city where we have crime rates the way that they are," McCrary said. "It's crucial that people have trust and confidence in police and that the police listen to the people that they serve and have relationships with the people that they serve."
"It is the mission of this office to establish a mediation program but more broadly to mend police community relationships," deputy police monitor Ursula Price said. "For what we are seeing nationwide, as these rifts are building between different segments of our community, we have to maintain unity and this a very a direct and concrete way to build fractured relationships."
The team has conducted 22 mediations throughout the city between officers and residents.
The IPM released a report on the program's success.
All of those who participated in the mediation said they believed the meetings were unbiased, and an overwhelming majority said it gave them perspective on the other person's point of view and policing, according to McCrary.