October 16, 1997 in Idaho

Boise Mayor Seeks Mediator In Shootings

Associated Press
 

Mayor Brent Coles proposed having a mediator rather than a citizens’ board handle complaints against police in the wake of eight fatal shootings in 16 months, including the death of one officer.

The City Council did not immediately agree Tuesday. Instead, members decided to think about the plan and bring it up again in two weeks.

Under Cole’s plan, the mediator would be stationed in the Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards and report to the police chief, mayor and council. The mediator would take complaints about police conduct and use mediation skills to resolve conflicts. The specialist also would train officers in mediation skills.

“We will in the short term be able to fully respond to complaints, and in the long term, we will create a culture of mediation within the Police Department,” Coles told the council.

But some members, including Council President Carolyn Terteling, said they wanted more information before deciding what to do.

“I still need comparative data, primarily data from communities of similar size,” she said.

The council will take up the issue Oct. 28 after Councilwoman Paula Forney and two city police officers attend a national conference on police accountability in Oakland, Calif.

At a Sept. 25 hearing, many of the 77 witnesses who testified asked the council for a citizens’ review board to deal with complaints against police.

More than two-thirds of the 100 largest U.S. cities have some type of citizens’ review, and many smaller cities are establishing them.

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