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Peacekeepers turned peacemakers: police as mediators

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We discuss the potential of law enforcement officers to function as mediators in everyday disputes encountered in the field. Examples are drawn from mediation and peacemaking occurring in a variety of contexts, focusing on a description of the Navajo peacemaking program currently in operation, using interviews with Navajo law enforcement professionals who discuss the benefits of officers serving as mediators/peacemakers in the field. Peacemaking is a community-oriented policing tool with the potential to reduce crime and simultaneously improve public perceptions of the police. By enabling citizens and victims to solve their own problems, the police can earn the respect of the communities they serve. Programs such as those discussed here represent a way for police to transform themselves from officials primarily concerned with keeping the peace to those making it.

Keywords: Navajo peacemaking; community policing; mediation; restorative justice

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, Camden, NJ, USA 2: Retired Sergeant, New Mexico Mounted Patrol, Las Cruces, USA 3: Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies, California State University, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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