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Riverside Police Department Move to Mediate Juvenile Offenses

Friday, November, 8, 2019

After partnering with the Youth Outreach Services program to provide 24-7 intervention assistance, the Riverside Police Department announced it would now use the Center for Conflict Resolution for mediation to deal with juveniles in the court system. The program will move juveniles out of the court system and deal with both non-criminal and criminal matters using mediation.


According to Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, "This is the second initiative where officers themselves did the research and brought it to me. I'm really proud they have gone out there looking for alternatives."


The Center for Conflict Resolution was created about 40 years ago by the Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association. There are 180 volunteers who participate in the program and assist in resolving disputes that do not involve weapons crimes or orders of protection.


According to the center’s statistics, more than 10,000 cases have been resolved using mediation in the last five years.


There is speculation that the center in Riverside could begin mediating other cases in the future, including those related to a wide variety of criminal matters, that brand would focus only on juveniles for now.


Mediation sessions will not have to involve the police, but the police can participate if both sides agree. There is also no forced mediation. Weitzel called the police’s role in the program “… the bridge to make that connection…”


The program’s director Rae Kyritisi described the program as an opportunity for victims and offenders to sit down and have a conversation that's focused and productive about whatever has happened. It is a chance to repair harm and have open dialogue."