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Mediation Initiative Would Partner Law School, Boston Police

By Andrew M. Duehren, Crimson Staff Writer

In an upcoming initiative, the Harvard Mediation Program at Harvard Law School would help mediate complaints levied by civilians against Boston Police Department officers, according to Rachel A. Viscomi, the assistant director of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program at the Law School.

The Mediation Program is a subsection of the broader Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program. Under this new initiative, trained Law School students and local residents would bring together civilians and police officers to address more moderate disputes, including complaints such as rudeness or unprofessional police conduct, and more serious complaints would continue to be addressed through the Internal Affairs division at the BPD, according to the Boston Globe.

“Mediation provides an opportunity to engage and potentially repair individual instances of hurt and misunderstanding, helping to strengthen connection and understanding between police officers and the communities they serve,” Viscomi wrote in an email.

Viscomi wrote that the Boston Police Department reached out to the Law School program about the initiative, though, as the initiative has yet to begin, many  details of the program remain undecided. She added that the number of Law School students involved in mediation will depend on the number of cases the program receives. The Mediation Program requires a “32-hour basic training,” according to Viscomi.

Just when the Law School program will begin mediating complaints for the Boston Police Department remains unclear.

“I expect it will be implemented as soon as makes sense without compromising the quality of the program,” Viscomi wrote.

The BPD did not respond to a request for comment.

—Staff writer Andrew M. Duehren can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @aduehren.

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