An exploratory study of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board mediation program

Elizabeth C. Bartels (Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey, USA)
Eli B. Silverman (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, New York, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This study seeks to provide an exploratory analysis of the level of satisfaction of citizens and police officers who participated in police complaint mediation. The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board's mediation program served as the case sample.


A two‐page questionnaire, of multiple choice and open‐ended questions, was sent to the sample population (N=285) of officers and complainants who either had their cases mediated or fully investigated.


Complainants who participated in mediation were significantly more satisfied with the police complaint procedure, and the NYPD as a whole, than those whose cases were fully investigated. Two major areas of research concern also emerged from the data: a need for an analysis of the cases where complainants wish to avoid face‐to‐face meetings with subject officers, and a clarification of the expectations of mediation participants.

Research limitations/implications

This study's low response rate (18.2 percent) warrants caution in generalizing the findings of this study. Another limitation to this research was the cross‐sectional survey design; a pre‐post survey design would better determine whether the sample bias existed.

Practical implications

This research helps to inform police and civilian oversight officials of the effectiveness of police complaint mediation. In addition, this study highlights areas which merit future investigation.


This paper is the first examination of the satisfaction of police complaint mediation participants in the United States. This research is helpful for police and civilian oversight administrators considering the establishment of such a program, or those seeking the improvement of an existing one.



Bartels, E. and Silverman, E. (2005), "An exploratory study of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board mediation program", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 619-630.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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