At our office, we have the academic credentials: Masters Negotiated Conflict Resolution from Creighton School of Law and extended mediation training at Northwestern University / Chicago. However, when it comes to mediation and conciliation skills we do not hold a candle to Pueblo City Police and Officer Lee Medved. Last Saturday, we were fortunate to spend an 8 hour shift (that lasted 9 hours) with Officer Medved. Fifteen dispatches. During that time we witnessed facilitative, evaluative and plenty of transformational mediation and conciliation successfully completed in time critical situations. Add to the mix of resolution talent : legal interpretation, computer skills, navigation, appreciation of psychological and sociological issues and an impressive work ethic.
Lesson 1 – Family Dynamics
We mediators have it easy. Our negotiations are somewhat controlled in a formal mediation session. Not so when arriving on the scene of a child custody case. The mediation environment is far from a formal conference room . Our 12th call occured in a three block radius of a quiet residential neighborhood. Mother, children, neighbors and extended family friends were on the scene to provide emotional input. Added to the turmoil was a dog-eared court document which was the key to how the situation would play out. The call was initiated by the mother who was the court-appointed custodian. The situation was a father (a registered sex offender) that had taken the daughters shopping for a birthday presents without the mother’s knowledge. De-escalation of an emotional issue was the first action. Respecting the parties’ right to have their say is not always easy or effective in a heightened emotional setting. Officer Medved was thorough in his review of the court document (using a combination of street lights and flashlight to read). He explained the stipulations to a group and gently requested family friends to allow discussion to remain between he and the parties. The ultimate outcome was conciliation. Officer Medved connected with daughters with compassion and explained the implications of not returning to their mother. The daughters returned to their mother and all parties understand the next step will play out in next month’s court hearing.
More to Come
This was one of 13 calls. Next week we’ll tell you about our witness to how an expert creates dialogue with a potential suicide case. These men and women meet critical challenges every day of the year. We are humbled and forever grateful. And for all our conflict resolution friends, we strongly recommend a police ride along.