The Greensboro Police Dept. announced today that it will implement a voluntary mediation process for less serious complaints about police conduct to try and resolve individual grievances.

The move comes amidst a city council subcommittee’s work to improve the complaint review committee that hears allegations of police misconduct. Residents have said the process lacks teeth and meaningful resolution. The department likely hopes mediation will improve community trust and relations, but maintains that the formal complaint process doesn’t need more change than several minor changes that were implemented recently.

“Mediation is an alternative to the formal complaint process that may be appropriate for cases where a lack of effective communication between a resident and police employee led to a complaint,” a departmental press release says. “These can include allegations of discourteous or rude treatment or behavior; or complaints of biased-based policing. Mediation is not suitable for more serious allegations such as violations of the law, or corrupt or criminal behavior.”

The process will involve a professional, neutral mediator, the release says. Residents have complained in the past — including at recent council subcommittee meetings — that the department’s internal review process is biased because police are policing themselves. It remains to be seen if a neutral mediator, as part of a confidential process, will be viewed with less skepticism. The department said numerous major US cities use the process, including New York City, Denver, and Austin.

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