Mediation and the police

Characteristics of complainants and mediation selection within a civilian police oversight agency in New York


  • Cynthia-Lee Williams William Paterson University



police–community relations, mediation in civilian police oversight agencies, policing in urban communities


Currently, few studies have examined mediation programmes within independent police oversight agencies. Moreover, analyses of these programmes primarily focus on the degree of citizen satisfaction. This study adds to the existing research by examining possible characteristics linked to mediation selection within independent police oversight agencies. Specifically, this study considers the long-standing tension experienced between the police and certain groups (e.g. minorities, youths and residents of disadvantaged communities) and attempts to determined which groups are more or less likely to meet with officers to resolve police complaints. The data (obtained from the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board and United States Census of 2010) allow for an analysis of complainant demographic characteristics and neighbourhood characteristics linked to the complainants. Bivariate and multivariate analyses uncovered group differences in mediation selection. Particularly, the results of this study demonstrate that minorities are more likely to select mediation.

Author Biography

Cynthia-Lee Williams, William Paterson University

Cynthia-Lee Williams earned her MPhil and PhD in Criminal Justice from CUNY, the Graduate Center/John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She also earned an M.A. in Criminology from St John’s University and a BA in Art History from Ithaca College. Research interests include policing in urban communities; reentry; police oversight agencies; the intersection between race, urban crime and substandard living; and applied statistics. Dr Williams has published several articles that cover policing in urban communities and jail violence. Her dissertation was about mediation selection at the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board. Before coming to William Paterson, Williams held a faculty position at Dominican College. Before her academic career, Dr Williams worked as an investigator for New York City government agencies including New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board; New York City Comptroller’s Office, Bureau of Labor Law; and New York City Department of Education, Office of Special Investigations.


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How to Cite

Williams, C.-L. (2020). Mediation and the police: Characteristics of complainants and mediation selection within a civilian police oversight agency in New York. Mediation Theory and Practice, 5, 6–31.



Research Articles