The relationship between law enforcement and the community can range from strained to conflicted, and in Los Angeles, the need for police officers and community members to engage in meaningful dialogue is paramount. The Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine Law recently collaborated with the Los Angeles Women Police Officers and Associates to provide a three-day dispute resolution experience designed to engage local community members and police officers in dialogue with neutral facilitators.
Professors Stephanie Blondell and Sukhsimranjit Singh, as well as students from the Straus Institute, were honored to be a part of this unique pilot program, taking police officers and community members through hands-on exercises. The Straus staff takes one day to train each group separately.
Following the hands-on experience, all participants come together on the third day when community members and police officers are paired together. The facilitators then guide them through realistic use-of-force simulations–scenarios where they step into the shoes of the mentally ill and circles where they hear the personal testimonials of both officers and community members. This is followed by a guided dialogue in order to gain a better understanding of one another and heal the perceived divide.
This initiative was made possible from a generous grant by the Open Society Foundation, which represents collaborations among the Los Angeles Police Officer Women’s Association, the Los Angeles Police Department, and Pepperdine School of Law.
Professors Blondell and Singh, as well as Straus students, were honored to be a part of this unique pilot initiative and look forward to further partnerships with the local community as the Straus Institute continues to pursue opportunities of peace.