Can you start off by telling us when you began with CRS?
Initially I came to work with CRS in 1972. About 4 months after I came to work, we were
with this rather large reduction in force. About 75-80 percent of the staff was being laid off.
My position was not going to be one of those positions, but I wasn't real crazy about staying,
given the circumstances, so I left and went to work for National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration. So the first go around I probably worked for CRS like 9 or 10 months. I left
and went to work for NHTSA in New York, but then I got burned out on the New York lifestyle.
I couldn't keep up with it and so I just called up Ozell, [head of the Atlanta office of CRS]. I
came back in July of 1975 and I've been here ever since.
And what is your capacity at CRS? What's your job title?
The title they're using now is Senior Conciliation Specialist-- but it's changed over the years.
But you've had the same job functions basically?
Well in '72 I was an Administration of Justice Specialist, that's when we were very
programmatic. When I came back, I came back as a conciliator and then we would call it
something else and then something else and now we're conciliation specialists.
What were you doing prior to CRS in 1972?
I had just graduated from college. I was a police officer for a couple years and I was going
school part time and I decided it was taking too long so I went to school full time. Coming to
work for CRS actually took longer because directly before coming to work with CRS I took a 6-
month sabbatical where I just toured the country. So prior to CRS I was in college, and I had
been a police officer.
Were you involved in any other Civil Rights activities?
What attracted you CRS?
The way that I came to know about CRS, was the University of Maryland where I did my
Undergraduate program. They were having trouble figuring out where they were going to place
students. One of the places that I ran across was CRS and when they had talked to me about
trying to work, I was originally going to become an Administration of Justice Specialist which
sounded very interesting and so that was it.
Now I want you to get a little bit more specific. I want you to talk
through a case and when I ask this question I always have to laugh because we are asking for
typical case but I understand with CRS there is no such thing as typical, but I want you to sort of
walk me through a particular case and tell me how you became involved, who you talked to, and
take me through the whole process.
Well you want a long case, a major case, or a small case?
I want you to tell me something that you found particularly interesting or that you were
particularly involved in, something that has particular meaning to you.
Well, there are probably several dozen of those. Just within the last
few years, the Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta. We knew that we were going to have to
be responsive to that based partly on what happened in Los Angeles during the Olympics that
were out there and the number of situations that arose that relate directly to what our mandate is
to community tensions along the racial line. We knew that we were going to have to become
involved and I became the leading person on that.
What were some of those problems just for the record?
I don't even recall specifically, but there were tensions because of the impact of the
on the minority communities that surrounded the area where the Olympics were taking place.
People were treated, or at least there was the perception that people were treated, almost as
second-class citizens because the Olympics were there. They were taking place in their
neighborhood but yet they weren't allowed to do what they did normally. They weren't allowed
to go into certain places and they felt that they were being treated disrespectfully because the
Olympics were going on. Particularly because of the heightened security that comes along with
it, there were confrontations that took place between police and minority citizens, in groups of
citizens. This was a result of this massive undertaking with the high level of security and people
telling people what to do. The tension was outside of what the norm was and so that's how we
became aware of it.
The assessment that I did took place over probably 5 or 6 months. We made sure that we
had all the points of contact that were necessary. What separates this from a regular case is that
instead of going into Birmingham, AL and dealing with the mayor of Birmingham or the police
in Birmingham, here you've got the Olympics coming to the city of Atlanta and you've got
literally every level of law enforcement involved, every level of governmental entity. So there
was a massive group of people we needed to touch base with to be able to move around to be
able to get things done. Part of the assessment required an extensive amount of identifying who
the key leaders were in different areas and then making contact with them. That way they would
know who I was and vice versa. In the Olympics you've got all these people coming from all
over the world. You've got an extremely diverse cultural atmosphere and because of that you've
got the potential for all kinds of conflict particularly between law enforcement and people. The
police aren't running the show, but they are making sure that it flowed smoothly. The tension for
conflict between police, the majority of who would be white, and people from all kinds of parts
of the world was exceptionally high and so we were trying to identify how that would work and
where we would plug into this. The assessment and that leads me up to, the key factor in the
assessment process was to make sure that we knew where we fit and where we could best
provide the kind of service that we were supposed to.
How did you know who to contact, who would be the key players that you needed to bring
into this process?
Well a lot of it was common sense and experience. Because you've done it before, you go
into a situation where there are certain people that you have to touch base with. There was a
bureaucracy created and an Olympic Committee and they are kind of running the show. That's
like the CEO's office. So you know you've got to go to them, you know that you've got to go to
the key law enforcement agencies that are going to be responding to this, not just security within
the Olympics. A lot of it was going to take place with the periphery and so you had to make sure
that you touched base with the city police, the county police, the state police, and the federal
police. And again that's kind of common sense. You just know that because that's what the job
entails. And you know based on the assessment you can get a sort of sense where you think the
problems are going to be so you invite other people that you might need to touch base with.
Social service agencies for example, you might touch base with them. So identifying the key
leadership, or who the people are that you need to get in touch with, you look first for the
position. You find out who the chief of police is and you talk to him. Being here in Atlanta we
had some advantage in that we knew some of the players already and so you talk to one and you
find out you also need to talk to a couple more and it just kind of grows out. Over a period of
several months, and not full time, I was dealing with other cases and everything else. We had a
luxury of time because we had a long advance period prior to our involvement. I did the
assessment and that gave me an idea of what we were going to do and it kind of created a picture
of here's what needs to be done and here's what we plug into this whole process. Then I had to
figure out how we were going to do that and how many people it would take and how you
organize that and make it run smoothly.
At that point did you have a goal in mind of
what you wanted to happen out of this?
Yeah. The goal was to be prepared to respond to conflict between Olympic people and the
community that it impacted, and secondarily the people who were coming to the Olympics from
all over the world. We wanted to be prepared to respond to any conflicts that took place
amongst the people that were coming to attend the Olympics, not just the ones that live here.
But it was basically to be able to just provide conciliation services. We also wanted to have
input into the planning process, and particularly in the contingency planning process where you
do get this kind of stuff.
Now did you solicit the help of the key parties in developing your goals, or was that
something CRS did?
So it got to a point where we were done with the assessment and I kind of determined a plan
of action. Here's what CRS plugs into this whole thing, here's what CRS ought to be prepared to
do, and here's what it's going to take to do that. We were going to utilize all the regional staff
and I think at that time there were six of us. The Olympics go on 14-18 hours a day every day for
14 days, and do so at multiple sites (e.g., in Atlanta there were events taking place all the way in
Savannah, Georgia, which is a five hour drive up in the mountains) and there were also various
venues that were anywhere from 10 to 50 miles out of Atlanta. So it wasn't like you were just
going into one area and dealing with the situation. We had a multitude of venues, and sites.
Atlanta was the key one, but the other ones had the potential for conflict between people, so we
had to be open to that. So we needed a lot people to come in. As I recall I think the total was
sixteen people in all. The basic design was that all the people would come in for the fourteen
days straight, but then there would be breaks provided, based on how things were working.
When things were slow we had the luxury of taking a break or something.
I had two person teams. We had sixteen people so I think it broke down to two eight-person
teams and actually I was monitoring the whole thing. And it was set up so that we had all the
venue sites covered when we needed to have them covered. It was set up so that we would have
all the time periods of each date covered; it was just a matter of logistically assigning people to
the right place at the right time. And then we also had it built in that people were available to
move should something come up in some place external to the place they were positioned at any
point in time. People were mobile.
Were you looking for certain things?
Well what we were trying to do is monitor the whole process. The people that I brought in
were all experienced staff. But I just lost my train of thought.
You were telling me what things you were looking for.
We knew for example, that the venues in downtown Atlanta were pushing right up against,
and actually into some of the lower income areas in Atlanta where there's a high density of
people living. And because of the Olympics, the flow of traffic was changed so you couldn't
drive down the same street that you always drove down and some streets were closed at certain
times, and others were blocked off completely. There was just a lot of disruption of the normal
flow of movement within the city. And so you've got these, things going on, but you have all
these factors that come together. And you've got law enforcement everywhere and you've got it
from all kinds of places. I mean not only are they physically all over the place, but they are from
at all parts of the country and all different levels of government. The one thing that they've got
in common is that they are all law enforcement people concerned with security. You know they
don't want anybody to get hurt. And of course you know we've got that bomb thing here and
that's why they are out there. But in the process of doing their job they were injuring other
people's ability to do things. So we knew there were going to be flash points where people were
going to get hot and there was going to be confrontation. Once people get into a confrontation
the next thing you know you've got a crowd and the potential is there for violence. We couldn't
stop that, but in the preplanning and the contingency plan we talked about a bunch of these
things, made suggestions and recommendations. But when we were actually on-site the idea was
to be there and to be ready to move because you can't be everywhere at once and you can't
identify all of them so you just have to be prepared to go. I mean you might actually see
something and respond to it right away but what we did was we would get notified that there was
a potential problem so someone would go over there and start to deal with it. And I'll talk to you
about how that activity went. So you know people were out there and basically doing what CRS
Were you talking to people this whole time, or were you just sort of walking around
We were in constant contact with the law. For example you would be walking in this one
area, say around the Omni where there were a lot of events going on, and there were people all
over the place on the streets and everything else. We would just touch base with the law
enforcement people on the scene. Ideally we would try to touch base with whoever was the
commander for that particular sector, but we would also talk to the officers that were just
standing on the street corner. "Hey what's going on? How are things going?" And that sort of
thing. We would talk to people just on more of a friendly basis then anything else because as
soon as you start questioning somebody who wasn't officially there they're going to wonder why
you're asking this and that can create a problem. So there's only in terms of "Hi, how are you?"
type stuff. The rest of it was in keeping in touch with local law enforcement people that were on
There was a main command post and we had somebody in there 24 hours a day. And everything
that happened flowed through the command post and every action that was taken flowed out of
the command post. So we sat there with everybody else and we knew almost instantaneously
what was going on. I equipped everybody with cell phones. We didn't try to use walkie-talkies or
anything because there were a zillion of them around. So, we were in instant communication
amongst ourselves. There was one large board that was a running incident schedule that logged
the time, the location, and what happened. It was constantly changing, growing, but it told
everybody in there what was going on and if there was something that was a potential problem, it
told whoever was in charge of the command post. The commander would make a verbal
announcement to everybody in there about what was going on and give all the latest information
and that kind of thing. So we were constantly in touch with our command post and we knew
what was going on all over the place because everything flowed into there. So we would use
that as a guide of where we would go and what we would do. And we would also feed
information into that process if we saw something happening or if we thought something needed
to be addressed. We would call our person at the command post who would talk to the person he
needed to talk to and there would be an instantaneous response.
That was a real neat set up because it worked really well and if you consider the number of
people involved it was amazing that it did. But it worked really well in terms of information
moving around. So that's kind of how we came up with where we went. And there were a few,
but not many, but a few announced events. Nothing pops to mind immediately, but there were
times where an organization or a group said they were going to protest at such and such a site
because so and so is there. Most of those protests were political in nature and they were foreign,
outside of the United States, where people would protest because a particular country was there.
But we were always there to deal with the potential that comes from any planned demonstration.
No matter how well it's planned the potential of conflict exists so we would cover all of those.
We would always have someone present. Since there are so many people involved in those
things, we tried to the best of our ability to get to know some of the protestors and other groups
that we knew were going to be out there. We would identify their leadership and talk to them in
terms of working as a liaison and that kind of stuff.
And I think you are actually getting to that
next step. Talk about some of the conflicts that occurred while you were working on this
Olympic site and how did you handle those particular conflicts?
Well, first of all, fortunately there weren't that many. And even more fortunately, the ones
that did take place never really got out of hand. Other then the bombing there never really was a
bad situation. There were arrests made, yelling and screaming and things like that, but there
were no instances where weapons were used. Nothing really got out of hand. A lot of what we
did was inject ourselves into a situation say between some law enforcement people who were
standing on a street corner and some people, mostly who were indigenous and lived in the area,
over not being able to drive down this road or not being able to get through here. You know,
small things but they are the type of things that can set people off. And what we would do is the
regular CRS kind of stuff where we just go in and separate the parties and talk to both sides and
cool them down. And just kind of do that kind of show conciliation and mediation kind of stuff
and try to resolve that situation right on the spot. A lot of that took place and there was no
reason to really try to document it. I was not interested in keeping a running tally of 18 things
today and 22 the next day. I just wasn't interested in that. I didn't see any purpose in trying to
Did you ever need to have the parties meet together?
Oh, yeah sure. The whole range took place but we didn't have any major events. I don't
know whether we attribute that to preplanning, the contingency planning that was done, or
whether we attribute that to CRS getting involved in some situations, or whether maybe the
training that was done for the law enforcement people was good. And then a whole lot of factors
come into play but we dealt with these small little scrimmages, and that's pretty much the type of
things on-site that we were dealing with. If we felt there was the potential, this is another kind of
activity, if we felt that we identified a potential problem area, you know, if we knew that seven
debt [?] was taking place and we knew that some organization was coming or something, then
we would do some contingency planning to stop the secondary kind of stuff right on the spot and
make sure that, working through the command post, not only were the law enforcement people
prepared to deal with it, maybe in a slightly different way because we knew what has happening
or we brought in the right people. Sometimes it was a matter of having other people there that
could make things happen. Like the City of Atlanta's work crew came in and, so we were
doing that. The aspect of what we did in this whole thing was the contingency planning.
Law enforcement was active at all levels, and I mean we are talking about hundreds, and
hundreds and hundreds of people before we even get to the cops on the street. Looking at all
kinds of scenarios and "what if" kinds of situations and we would say here's the best approach to
what we came up with and so we were actively involved in that contingency planning. We
weren't participating in the contingency planning of what do you do if a bomb explodes, we were
participating actively in the contingency planning of what would you do if this group
demonstrates or if this group does that, how do you control this, and what if you get a mob, and
so we did all those kinds of things. And we looked at scenarios and we tried to make our input
on the softer side. We had plenty of the hard side from all the cops that were there so we tried to
bring in the other perspective.
On a daily, almost an hourly basis we maintained those points of contact that we had, the liaisons
that we had established. We made sure that we were in touch with the key players should
anything serious occur. We wanted to be able to be instantaneous and get to the right person
and have them say, I know who you are, I know what you do, go take care of it type of thing.
And so we developed really good working relationships. I'll give you an example of how good it
was. This occurred because I just spent so much time and energy being involved with the key
law enforcement people in terms of who was really directing the response by the law
enforcement community. I mean when you are talking about the Olympics you are talking about
access and if you can't go somewhere you can't do something. If you can't move around freely
and quickly you can't respond to problems. So what I was able to arrange through this
relationship that I developed early on was to obtain the "X credentials." The X credentials were
the top level of law enforcement credentials that said you could go anywhere at any time so we
could walk into any building at any time.
Yeah, the people who were credentialed. They could walk into any venue at any time. If
you didn't have credentials you weren't going anywhere. But the ones that we had, the best
credential was the "Double X," I had that one, and all that meant was that there were a couple
places that you could go that the X's couldn't, but it was by and large the same. But that sounds
to me almost childish on one level, but it allowed us to be responsive to things very quickly
because we didn't have to try to explain to somebody why we had to be there. All we had to do
is walk up and they saw the credentials and they got out of your way. So it allowed us that
immediate access, but also gave us status. It's one thing to go up and show your Department of
Justice credentials and say I'm from the Department of Justice and then try to explain all of that,
which we could have been doing, but that's time. That's energy and sometimes that becomes
unglued. But with credentials we had the status that allowed, I don't know how to say this
exactly so it comes out sounding correct, but it's not that we were looked up to, it's just that we
had this piece of plastic hanging off of us that said we were somebody important because we
could go where we wanted to, when we wanted to. And that had an influence on other people.
For example, police officers working on the street (and could be from anywhere in the country
because there were thousands of police officers from all over the United States working the
Olympics) when they saw that credential they knew that it meant something and knew that you
were in a position of authority. And that gave us a lot of flexibility in making suggestions or
coming up to a couple of local police officers who are in conflict with some of these local
citizens and we kind of show up and say, "Can we help you? Let's talk about this," and that kind
of thing. For the cops those credentials said that we were somebody that could help them and
that was important to this whole process.
Did it ever work the opposite way, having negative influence?
Let me back you up a minute, because as I'm listening to you telling
this story it seems to me that you were working on behalf of the law enforcement side as
opposed to the minority community which is, if I understand correctly the tradition of CRS. CRS
usually works with the minority community?
That's not correct.
No. We work in the minority community, we work with the minority, but we are a neutral
agency. We don't advocate working for the minority community. Some people think we do, but
that's not correct.
Okay, so when you are brought in, you say you hear about the Los Angles riots, your main
point of contact was the law enforcement and when you're getting together with the law
enforcement agency do you have their interest in mind solely? Are you communicating with the
minority community at the same time?
You're looking at this wrong. It's none of the above. It's not a question of having anybody's
interest in mind; it's a matter of identifying what our role should be within this particular case.
How do you establish what your role is going to be without knowing the interest of the
So you go in and you know what your role is, right? Before you even talk to the parties
involved in these cases??
Well, yes and no. Once you've been doing this for a number of years, over time you develop
a like fifth sense, sixth sense, seventh sense, or whatever sense it would be where you can kind
of read what's going on and based on past experience you can almost foretell what you're going
to hear people say and what you're going to be doing. So that plays into it. The other aspect is
that we have a mandate and it says this is what you're supposed to do so you know in a very
generic sense what your role is going to be to a large degree and you talk to the parties to kind of
flush that out.
And I guess what I'm asking or trying to get clarification on is that sometimes CRS looks at
situation and says that they need to be there. Do you do this without an invitation? Is that
Okay. So those times where you are invited into a situation you sort
of have to find out what's going on right? Okay, so explain to me how you don't consider the
interest of the parties involved.
What I heard you saying was that we took their interest to be more important then the others.
That's what I heard you say. You know you go in and find out what both sides want and then
you determine a method by which you might be able to help them achieve their goals
collectively, together. You don't do that by saying I'm on this side or I'm on that side.
I would hope not. And we're going to get to that neutrality and impartiality a little bit later.
Going back to the initial assessment. When you are convening with law enforcement agencies
trying to set up your contingency plan, is there a representative from the minority community
Okay. I guess where I'm getting a little bit confused is when you're saying you have both
interests in mind, but yet you aren't consulting a representative from that community to set up
Okay. Let me answer that. I think I can answer that. Who was I going to bring? Who
you bring from the community?
Well that's what I'm asking you because you
said, "when we are identifying the problem." How did CRS even know there was a problem?
Because the potential for the conflict is between the minority community and the law
enforcement, is that the assumed conflict? What I am saying is, how do you know if you don't
talk to anybody?
Well first of all it's not a matter of not talking to people on the other side. When law
enforcement is developing contingency plans, and I'm sure there are exceptions, but by and large
it's cops figuring out how they are going to respond to a situation without outsiders telling them
or helping them because they are trying to figure out what they are going to do -- should x, y, or z
In this particular case, unless a group identifies itself and says we are going to be protesting on
issue x at venue y, okay, those few that we knew we were in touch with them. Aside from those
people we were in touch with, for example, the leadership of the FCLC but we were in touch
with the local NAACP's regional office, or we were in touch with other ministerial lines. Those
types of leadership people you were in touch with but you were talking about a situation where
anybody from off of the street could become involved in a conflict just because of the
geography. You were also talking about people coming from all over the world into here and I
don't know how you could talk to them. Whether people liked it or not, police are an excellent
source of information about what's going on in a community. I can think of one particular
situation where we found out that there was a group of people who were coming to be disruptive
because that information was generated and we checked it out. What happened was that they
were stopped at the airport and put on a plane and sent home. The problem never even
materialized, and wasn't even going to get a chance to materialize and I'm not even sure if that
was legal. But that was how it was dealt with. I'm just giving you that as an example. We were
involved in that discussion about how you deal with these kinds of things because if they would
let them in, then the question was how do you deal with the disruption that was always coming.
So the decision was made that they're not coming in, simple as that. But, you take into
consideration the ability of different groups of people to respond to things in different situations
and clearly the official side has a better ability than the community side. They have the
structure, and the money to do those things, which the community can't, so you are constantly in
touch with those officials because they're the people that move things. You're in touch with
community organizations, and the leadership of those organizations, because that's the point of
contact you can use to get down to the grassroots. But everybody was surprised at how few
planned demonstrations there actually were.
Can you think about a conflict and tell us how you handled that
I know that over in front of the Omni there was every once in a while. It was a big structure
of conglomerate buildings all sitting together and it is intersected by a street. We had input into
this, and there was an area directly across the street from it that was designated as the protestor
area. It was roped off and clearly identified as the protest area, so if you wanted to protest you
did it there. So this is the ideal place for it. If you wanted to protest all you had to do was come
to this place. Again the number of groups who said "we want to protest," was so small, that it
took everybody by surprise because everybody was expecting it, you know just hundreds and
hundreds of groups wanted to protest, everything from the abortion issue, to handguns, and we
just expecting all kinds of issues to be addressed here because you had the international crest
there. The numbers were just surprisingly small, but we had this one area for that, so what
would happen is a group of people would show up and they'd go inside this area. Law
enforcement was surrounding it almost armed, (there was a lot of law enforcement present for
this), and they were allowed to protest, if they stayed in that area, they did their little thing with
signs, or a megaphone, whatever they wanted to do. We were physically present for that,
basically monitoring it, because everything had occurred at the front end. We had planned for it,
we had the location, we had law enforcement standing by, to the degree possible it was all
controlled, so they could just come in and do their thing, and leave. When everything's done up
front you don't have anything to do, except just kind of look and see. It's just about being there,
so that for example if there's a discussion that begins with somebody inside the area and
somebody outside the area, you get this discussion going and the next thing you know there's
probably six people outside the area that were getting into this discussion. It goes on and it
builds and it's on both sides, then it gets louder and then you can see where it's going. Should
that occur we step into that scene to stop it. We either try to stop it by working with them and
trying to get them to calm down or if it involves some process that's going to be a lot more
complex than just yelling at each other we'll ask the police to break it up. So those are the kinds
of things that happen, we were less active than we thought we were going to be. That's not to
say that we weren't busy and doing a lot of things but it never materialized that there were that
many problems that we had to deal with and we'd like to attribute that to preplanning, good
training, and law enforcement people. We did in fact have some impact on it because we dealt
with this stuff up front, but who knows.
In this particular case it sounds like the contingency plan was pretty much the focus of the
involvement of CRS and it sounds like it was very effective. Is there anything else that you'd like
to tell us about the contingency plan after the Olympics were over? Did any of those policies
remain, do you know?
No, whatever was used was clearly for the Olympics and the Olympics only. A lot of what
was used was already in place elsewhere anyhow.
If you take us through the development of the contingency plan what were the key issues that
the police force or law enforcement wanted to make sure were included in this plan?
They wanted to keep the number of arrests down, because they wanted to deal with
that came up. As low a profile as possible, so the contingency plans were aimed at "how." I
mean one way to deal with this is just to do what they did with these guys that came over from
England and say "we're just not going to deal with it," throw them on a plane send them back.
What you can do with this is you can just say we aren't going to protest, and if you show up
you're going to jail. That's one way to deal with it-- it's a very effective way to deal with it. But,
because the focus was on low profile let's deal with these things quietly, quickly and simply and
try to be as fair and equitable as we can, recognizing that you have to understand that this is a
political situation that's taking place. The Olympics you know it's fun and games, but there are
great political overtones going on. So you have to be extremely careful and cautious in terms of
how you interact with the different people because it's just an awful lot of bad blood that can
grow out of it. The majority of the focus is on keeping it low key. What can we do to make sure
that it happens in a short period of time, and it's quiet, that's all we want. They weren't trying to
create a model, they weren't trying to do the best, they just wanted to get through the day without
any major problems. That's all they wanted to do. So that drove a lot of what took place and
when you look back on it, 14 days flew by and it went pretty well. Even though there were a lot
of unhappy people in the community.
That was going to be my next question. Did everyone welcome your presence, or want CRS
to become involved in developing this contingency plan? Did you meet any opposition?
No opposition. Ok, at that particular point how did you decide or determine what your role
was going to be when you go to meet with the law enforcement agency at first? Do you come to
the table with what you think the contingency plan should look like, or do they already come to
the table with their contingency plan, and do you sort of help them refocus?
Neither one really, are we talking just about this case?
Yes, we're talking about this case, and then we'll go to the other one.
When you're talking about going with the contingency plan there were 50-60 people coming
to the table each with their own little contingency plan. It didn't work that way, in terms of our
involvement in the process. Those contingency plans that would have an impact or were
based on some kind of intentional community card, or a conflict amongst people. We weren't
participating in contingency planning for those kinds of things we were just keyed in on where
we were involved. I did that for every person, I brought my style to it and my style is not to
come in with a package that says here's the package and that's it. I don't operate that way, I went
in and I picked the best approach in this particular case, I went in prepared to raise issues, ask
questions, make comments, and recommendations, upon whatever we were dealing with,
whatever that process was. I didn't come in and say this is what I've got done, so put them down
and lets work them in, I viewed us as contributing to whatever was taking place. They didn't
have to have us there, they welcomed us, but it wasn't necessary that they do that, and so I don't
try to push my way into situations. So we were welcomed. I can't recall any time when
anybody said "why are you here, who are you?" or anything like that.
Did you do that by providing any type of training or other technical
We said we would assist with some training that they were doing for street cops and ended
not doing it. I don't even recall why. Our input was emphatic on the need for training not just of
crowd control, or those technical kinds of things, but in how you effectively interact with people
who are culturally different from you for example. How to better communicate with people.
Those kinds of things, more the touchy-feely stuff as opposed to technical definitive kinds of
Did they welcome your input when you say that touch feely type stuff that law enforcement
not generally used to? Did they welcome that part or was there any sort of uneasiness about that
Well there wasn't any uneasiness about it.
What was the role of trust in this particular
case? Was that important?
Yeah the fact that it was taking place here in Atlanta and the fact that CRS in this office has
good working relationship with the city, county, county sheriffs throughout the state, county
police, and state patrol. That history had a lot to do with allowing us to enter. Because the key
actors in terms of law enforcement were the City of Atlanta and Georgia Bureau or
Investigations (GBI) and Atlanta State Patrol. Those were probably the three local power
So we already had working relationships because of other casework with them and that trust
level was already there on both sides. Generally speaking, if you have a respected law
enforcement person who speaks up for you that takes care of about 80% of that trust with all the
others because if he buys then everyone else agrees it's okay. We had very good rapport with all
the law enforcement agencies, even at the federal level.
So you didn't have to do anything to build or sustain any type of trust because it already
existed on a high level?
Can you recall any time during the particular case you're talking about that you or CRS was
sort of used as a scapegoat?
What about confidentiality in this particular case? What was its
Was there ever any time where you needed to keep a certain body of information separate from
another group or another party involved without letting the other person know?
No it wasn't an issue. I suspect the reason that it wasn't an issue was because there was such
a limited level of organizational protesting. If memory serves me, a good part of the protesting
was by groups we had never heard of before.
At any time while you helped set up this contingency plan were there any impasses?
So everything just flowed?
I'm sure there were; I just wasn't party to them.
What part did objectivity, neutrality, and partiality play in this
Well it ended up not playing a real big role. But in the beginning we were very clear in
establishing ourselves as an agency that was there to respond and provide assistance. It wasn't
going to be guided by other agendas and everybody knew up front that we were there to deal
with the community conflicts that came up but not that we were playing the advocate role of the
community. Again neither were we playing the advocate role for the cops. We were a neutral
entity and the argument was made that because we state that we are a neutral entity and because
we are viewed that way hopefully we can provide that service that somebody else can't provide.
I mean we can do something that you can't do because you're not neutral. So we can fill that
void. And I didn't have any problem with it one-way or the other. It never really came up.
Were you able to detect any type of internal conflict or tension between or among the law
enforcement agencies or the people developing this contingency plan?
Oh yeah there were turf wars, you know, but that wasn't anything new. The FBI wants to
come in and take credit for whatever happened and showboat and highlight themselves, and local
cops hate them for doing that. That was true of the Olympics and it was true of every other
situation. Who was higher on the chain, but there were no hostilities really attached to that.
Was CRS asked to ever get involved and mediate that?
No. Yeah CRS never would, or at least I never would. That's a no win situation.
Can you think of any of the community resources that helped you to put together your
So this is all the work of you and the other CRS workers?
How did you deal with the media as far as this particular case goes?
Did you find the media to be a help or hindrance?
The few times we came in contact with them they were curious. So the helping and
weren't the factors. I had written up some kind of a process about how we were going to deal
with the media but it's very likely something along the lines that if you're approached by
somebody from the media you'd simply give them a standard CRS spew which is basically that
we're here to provide assistance to the community, and officials, and that's all. Do you want
more information or do you want to talk about this any further? My recollection was we just
gave out the office number and told them just to call. A lot of the times there wasn't any media
at that protest site because there was no newsworthiness attached to it. The focus was all on the
athletes and everything so we just didn't run into the media that much. There weren't any hot
issues to deal with exclusive of the dart throw or whatever.
I think that that's very interesting because
assuming the magnitude of the event and the likelihood for different types of conflict, I mean,
you're making it seem almost as if it just ran very smoothly outside of the bombing of course.
You shouldn't get that impression, I mean, there were all kinds of little incidents, there just
wasn't anything major. And there wasn't anything to incite interest or response. It didn't go
smoothly by any stretch of the imagination. I mean there was all kinds of problems because you
can imagine with an event that size there would have to be but anytime that number of people
come together in as condensed an area as they did for that long a period of time I figure it's safe
to say that things went smoothly because nothing major happened. People got hurt but they
might have fallen. Nobody was shot. Nobody was stabbed. There was the bombing but it went
ok. The community wasn't as incensed as people thought it would be, or if they were they didn't
show it. Or if they showed it, it was so dispersed it wasn't identified.
Were there any long term effects, like after the Olympics were over was there any
withstanding tension between the minority community or the communities that were affected in
There was an issue that lasted for maybe six weeks afterwards and that had to do with the
vendors. The streets particularly on the other side of Beach street but up in the downtown area
certain streets were designated as vendor strips so you could look down one side and down the
other side and there were all these little booths selling t-shirts and God knows what else. And
they were independent vendors, you know almost like a mom and pop store kind of thing. There
was a real nasty indiscretion over the fact that a lot of them were apparently placed where they
didn't think they were going to be placed. So instead of having a prime site on a main
thoroughfare they were back on this little "podunk" road out of everybody's sight. In the
alleyway that nobody walked down. That was a major point of contention because most of those
vendors were black. (And of course the City of Atlanta is predominantly black but the
governmental body is primarily black too and the governmental structure of the city and county
is predominantly black.) There were some really nasty things said, and a number of lawsuits
were filed over that one particular issue because basically the city stepped on these people. You
know, collected big chunks of money from them for their sites and then put them places where
they couldn't sell anything. That was the only aftershock.
Was CRS involved in that at all?
No I had no interest in getting involved in that because there was no way that it could be
mediated. And the whole issue was dollars. Some people tried to play the race card on it but it
was basically black contractors arguing with a black administration. It was the city official
body telling entrepreneurs because a lot of these people saved up for two years to be able to do
this because they thought that they were going to make a killing and the city just ripped them off.
You mentioned something that was interesting about situations that
are unnegotiable or unable to be mediated. How do you know when something is unable to be
Well you don't, so I guess anything could be mediated. Well I have to go back to the
statement I made earlier. You just know because your experiences taught you and what you
have seen happen over all the years and cases you interact with you just get a sense for things.
And there are some kinds of situations where it doesn't matter what the outcome is, you're still
going to be the bad guy. You're going to be the scapegoat. One of the things that is great for the
parties when they do mediation is that they can always dump on the mediator. That's the one
thing they can agree on. And with money issues yeah you can sit down and arrive at a figure
through mediation but what you go through to get there and what the aftermath is like isn't worth
it. I like mediation as the process whereby the parties come out of that exercise feeling good
about what just happened. When you're dealing with things like money you're back to that win
lose situation. And mediation isn't about win-lose, it's supposed to be that win-win kind of
thing but certain issues don't allow that win-win to evolve. My position is that those things are
better litigated than mediated. There are just some things that are suitable for mediation and
some things that aren't just like anything else.
Before you had all of this experience what are those key issues that you're looking for that
are going to trigger in your mind that you may not be able to get a win-win situation out of this?
What are those key things that you look for?
You mean before I became a mediator?
If I'm just beginning mediation and I don't have as much experience as you to know that
that's a key right there. What would I be looking for? How would I know that that's a red flag
and that I should be a little leery? Is it something that the parties say to you? Is it something
that they do? Or not do?
All of the above. A lot of it is common sense and some of it has to do with just innate
abilities that some people have to kind of read between the lines.
And that's usually based upon something that they say right? Or is it based on something
Yeah well it could be both, something they communicate whether it be verbally or
nonverbally but without experience or training there are still other things that allow you to look
at the situation and gauge it a little bit, like intuition.
If I was to be involved in a case and not have the wealth of experience that you have I might
go in thinking that I can mediate any situation because I have that confidence in myself. So I'm
saying well we're going to go to the table I can get a win-win situation out of this but there's
going to be certain things that come up possibly during the process that says that's a red flag.
How do you know a person is not negotiating in good faith and all that stuff?
A person's body language will communicate a lot to you. And so that's one thing.
If it's helpful for you to think about examples of when you recognized a red flag coming up
feel free to share them.
See those are the kinds of things that I don't think about anymore because I don't have to.
People have levels of information available to bring that they've presented to the table.
Somebody that's just overwhelming you with information, that to me is a red flag because it's
telling me one of two things: either they have absolutely no idea what they're talking about and
so they're just spewing forth garbage, or they are so well prepared that the playing field has been
made uneven and the other party is not going to be functioning at the same point. And that can
create a problem for the mediation process in that as soon as the playing field becomes uneven
the likelihood that you're going to be successful is reduced. And I guess if I sat here long
enough I could think of specific kinds of things but if I was going to tell somebody here's what
you need to look for in mediation I would not try to identify five red flags. My suggestion
would be to make sure that you watch how the person is communicating, not just what they're
saying, but watch how they're communicating. And then just let common sense dictate. Allow
your common sense to come into play and my belief is that if you don't have any common sense
you're not going to be in that position anyhow. And I'm sure that you could make up a list but a
lot of the items would only be applicable for that particular case. So I can't think any further on
I appreciate the effort. You mentioned
something a few minutes ago about leveling the playing field and you can talk more generally
now. You don't have to stick with the Olympic case. How did you handle situations or how did
you level an unequal playing field?
I don't necessarily view that as my role every time. There may be times when I don't
consider that to be a significant factor but if I want to try and level it and I think that's something
that a mediator should be doing in this particular case, then there's a number of ways you can do
that. One of the ways you can do just that is you can communicate nonverbally your support for
the person who is on the low end of the playing field. There are a number of little tricks you or
things that you can do like the use of body language to send a message that will indicate
something to someone. It creates the appearance that I'm on this person's side and I'm here to
help them, so you're not just dealing with that guy now your dealing with maybe two.
For example, non-verbal?
Oh, moving physically closer to the person, having eye contact with them but not with the
other person. Not that I don't want to look at them, not that I'm afraid to look at them because
they are not important enough to look at. Anytime you start doing these body language things,
you have to know what the hell you're doing. You have to be able to do this, but you learn to do
that. By using pitch and inflection, you know sort of like talking more calmly and rationally and
an even tone to the person you're trying to help. More aggressive and louder with the person,
you are trying not to help. You know, there are all kinds of things you can do by using body
language, and even by using tonality and inflection and those kinds of things.
Another thing you can do in terms of leveling the playing field is to do some caucusing. You
have to be very careful here that you don't screw up the neutrality of the way you're doing this,
but what you do is try and direct the person who hasn't made it up to the level of the field, try to
get them thinking in terms of how they can improve their position. You might recommend that
they read something or they do something, or that they check into something. You don't tell
them to do it, you just say this is something you might want to think about. It's usually best to
do that by throwing out something else also, here's another option that you might want to
consider. So, you're not telling them here's one thing to consider, you're telling them, here's 2
or 3 things to consider, so that there's options on the table. But you use the caucus period to
point that person in the direction that's going to help them. When you caucus with the other side
you know you're doing something that's not the exact opposite but what you do is you try to get
them to lighten up a little bit. Or you can let them know in a subtle or maybe not so subtle ways
that you know what's going on, and as a mediator because you're neutral you may not be able to
do anything about it directly but I want you to know that I know kind of thing. The playing field
doesn't necessarily have to be completely level, it's just the system, the process works better
when it's level, and generally speaking I feel better about what's going on when it's relatively
level. When it's relatively level then if somebody hurts themselves in the process, it doesn't
bother me as much because they were both about the same level, and if they screwed up, I can't
do everything all the time, but it should be a level playing field.
So you said that when you see a large discrepancy in the power you feel the need to sort of
level the field, as level as it can be, that's relatively speaking, but what are those specific things
that you're looking for that tells you that this group is not on the same level?
Well, I don't know what to say here, as reluctant as I might be to make assumptions, I think
you can generally assume a community group that's not really associated with a national
organization. They're working at a hindrance when they're dealing with officials who have tax
dollars, and all the time in the world because that's their job. The officials have access to data,
and very likely although not exclusively, but very likely they are better educated. They just gain
common sense, it just kind of tells you that officials are in a better position than our community
leaders. Now if you're talking about a NAACP even though that chapter might be
unsophisticated. When you're coming out of rural Arkansas, you know, they're not that well
educated, they just don't have the sophistication level, because they've never had the opportunity
that the mayor, the chief of police and all these people have. But what they do have is their
organization, so they can bring in the legal defense plan. Even though that young group there is
unsophisticated and may not be at the same level, they have a support mechanism they can bring
people that were not on their level of playing field, and bring them up to power.
So in those cases did you sit back and let the community group access their resources and
work with the flow?
I may be different than a lot of people, but here is how I view some of the stuff. I take a very
clear view that if you're going to raise an issue, then you need to know what you're talking
about. If all you have is a high school education and the mayor's got a law degree, that doesn't
necessarily make the playing field uneven. But, if you're a community organization or a
community group, if you're going to raise an issue then you better have done your homework.
My job as a mediator is not to do your homework, or do your work for you. My role is very
simple, I'm just here to help you try and figure out what the answer is, I'm not going to come up
with the answer, I'm just going to help you figure out how to do it. I expect if people want to
raise an issue, then they're prepared to raise it and defend it. So, generally speaking I don't feel
a great need to level the playing field. When I feel the need to level the playing field is when
clearly I'll just stick with the example of obsidian community organizations. Clearly the city is
acting in appropriate ways, that's not my job, my job is not to let that guide me because that
takes me out of my usual stance, but I'm not stupid, I can see the writing on the piece of paper.
Because I know that that's happened and I want to maintain my neutrality. How do I do
Well, the way I do that is by very indirectly coming to assistance of the community group to
bring them up to where the playing field is level. I see that as a role of a mediator. I think we
should have as level a playing field as you can get. Everybody should be starting at about the
same place. So when I see that that needs to take place and I think that's a legitimate function. I
mean it's an "iffy" kind of thing, cause you're still trying to maintain that neutrality and see if
everybody's helping somebody else. There are times when it's just got to be done.
And when you do have those groups does it
include helping them shape or frame their issues?
One of the things a mediator does is help both sides clarify what the issue really is. Get
to what exactly the issue is. I think it's perfectly reasonable for a mediator to help the parties,
both of them. It's your turn to clarify the issues.
I want you to think back to when we started to interview and I asked
you to choose one case, and we talked about your involvement with the Olympic committee.
We talked about the contingency plan and how it was well laid-out. How did you measure
your success in that particular case? Or how was success measured?
In terms of that particular case and in terms of most other cases, I measure success as having
accomplished what I had wanted to accomplish. Now that may not mean that the situation was
resolved. What it means is what I started out to do, I did. Situations still may exist-- sometimes
you just can't resolve issues. Some issues are not going to be resolved. But CRS can do things
that make that situation more palatable or easier to live with. It makes it a step closer to getting it
to what it's got to be. All of these are successes you know, and they're points of measurement.
My goal might not to be to resolve the issue, it might be to do "x". To move them closer to the
end result themselves. Because I don't have the time, you know that's one of the things that is a
hindrance to this agency and the people that work for it is that there's this expectation that you
would do excellent at cases for a year. It has an influence on how you're rated. That expectation
coupled with the fact that we've got far less than an adequate number of people we need to work
with what we've got. That means you don't have the luxury to spend a lot of time on any one
case. You just don't have the time, so you set your goals differently than you would if you had
months and months and months to work on this particular case.
Did the goal ever change within the same
Sure, and when they change they can change, up, down, sideways, inside out, they can go
direction. The assessment hopefully illuminates you, in terms of how you change. As you go
along all kinds of things can happen. Attitudes can change in the private party--people can be
Has that happened during your experience?
What, being barred off?
Oh, I'm sure that at some point I can dig out a case where somebody raised an issue and after
some offer under the table worked through the issue. I am sure that occurred from time to time.
Yeah goals changed, objectives changed, and the process changes because you learn things as
you go along. Not to agree that it could, and again that's a function of time, you just didn't have
the luxury of staying with the case even when you might have the sense that if I had 6 months to
work on this, we could resolve this case. But that would require most of my time for 6 months.
Now did CRS as an agency, as the mandate states, work in the Olympics? During the
Olympic crisis was it considered successful?
I got letters and files, and I'm sure people say you did a good job, and we're so proud of you,
and great. Yeah, it was considered successful, I think it was successful in doing what it wanted
to do, but I think it was also successful in terms of logistics, I mean we came together well.
Now think back in a case that you were actually able to bring to the
table and actually mediate and I want you to walk me through that particular case because I am
very interested in some of the techniques that you were able to use to get people to the table and
ultimately negotiate this conflict and negotiation situation. Again it's your choice.
Well this goes back a few years, but I will use the Louisville Police Department. The
Louisville, Kentucky Police Department was sued by the NAACP alleging discrimination in its
Ironed Silent Commotion Train. This was a case where the district court judge, and federal
judge, asked CRS to step in. It was interesting that there were two of us co-mediating and you'll
never guess the skin pigmentation of a person. Which made sense because it was a black-white
issue, and so we needed a biracial team. All together there were probably, 26 or 27 individually
specific issues with the officers that we were going to deal with. There were a number of parties
involved. The City of Louisville, and the Louisville Police Department, and of course, the chief.
As a friend of that side, we had the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) on the other side of the table
we had the NAACP and they invited a legal defense party. We had the black police officers, in
the Louisville Police Department that were participating also. Well anyway, that's a lot of
people. It varied I'd say, but on average we probably had a dozen people working.
At a time?
Wow, before we even get to the table, you
said that you were
called in by the judge to come into the case, what did you do first? Who did you initiate contact
with, was it by phone, was it by mail, did you just show up? Take us through step by step.
I don't honestly remember how initial point one came about. I'll tell you how it probably
came about, but I really don't remember. This is the way that it finally happened. The case was
filed in federal court by the NAACP and we became aware of it through the normal courts. We
spent a lot of time in Louisville around that time. But anyway we became aware of it, and I
think we called and made an appointment with the judge, and met with him and offered our
services to mediate no loss. The judge was interested, but he didn't want to deal with this case.
So what he basically did is he told the parties that you will go into mediation. I don't think it
was worded that way, but that's pretty much what he said. So, the judge referred to the law that
would give the case to CRS for mediation and the parties were advised, and so the judge let us
know once he had done that. We called the parties and talked to them over the phone and then
followed up with a written letter. Saying that judge-so-and-so asked us for your time, and that
we would like to meet with you at such and such a date. We signed the letter and we met, with
each of the groups individually. So we met with the city officials, the department chief of police
there, city council people, etc. Then we met with the legal defense fund people, then we met
with the FOP people, then we met with the Black Police Officer Association. And at each one of
those meetings we explained to them who we were, and how mediation works.
Did you meet with them separately?
Yes. The first step was to meet with them individually and then, in that meeting to get a yea,
or a nay, that they wanted to participate in mediation. Just because the judge referred it to
mediation, the party can say "no," we want to go to trial. But that's not a smart move.
of the parties agreed to give mediation a try. After each of the parties had said that, we got the
attorneys representing each of the parties together, and sat down, and made up a list of what the
issues were that we were going to address in mediation.
What were some of those issues, just generally?
I'll just take it from the beginning, the recruitment process, which people are recruited. The
allegation was that there was no way to attract minorities, or recruit minorities. Assignments,
the argument was that assignments were made based on who you knew, as opposed to your skill
level, and whites had almost all the good positions even though blacks needed these positions.
Promotions, there were no blacks above the rank of sergeant. blacks were not given the
opportunity to go to outside training. So we got with all the parties, they agreed to it, I then
drafted out the ground rules that were going to guide the mediation and gave those to everybody.
I got a tentative agreement from all of the parties, and then we set the date for the first get
together. It was that first meeting that would be introductory, everybody was going to introduce
themselves to everybody else, go over your ground rules, and get everybody to sign them, as
well as make any changes that are necessary, present the issues and put them on the table. What
we ended up doing was putting them up on paper on the wall. We met at the city hall and
everybody said that was fine. One of the things that was interesting was that all these people had
been together on another occasion in the past, because these were the same groups of people who
negotiated. You could leave the contract in the department, and everybody knew everybody
else. They knew each other real well. Actually Fred and I were the outcasts. The first meeting
when everybody was together, we went over the ground rules, everybody signed off on them, we
went over the issues, and then we decided that we needed to set up a schedule. When we were
going to meet and what the process was going to be like. I explained what the process should
look like. They said fine, we'll go with that. So we instituted a process about how the whole
thing is going to flow and we set up a schedule. Basically the schedule was that we would begin
meeting the following week, we'd start meeting in the afternoon, or late afternoon. We would
go until 9 o'clock or 8 o'clock, something like that. But we could go longer, if there was a
consensus, or if we were on a roll and the mediators said we need to keep going. I'm consistent
about this. The mediator is the final word, on the logistics, on the ground rules-- you know
anything that has to do with the process.
So, they don't have any input into the process?
They can have input, and input was solicited, but the final decision is made by the mediator;
that's just the process. So when a mediator says you're done talking, you're done talking. When
the mediator says they're taking a break okay. I think the first time we sat down, we went 9 days
straight. This thing dragged on for 8 months, now we had 27 issues. My recollection is that we
came together, I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday, it was 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon. It
was the first session. I don't think we ended until 2 o'clock in the morning. We came back
together the next morning at 8 o'clock and we went like this for 7 or 8 days of straight, constant
hammering at this. There were a dozen people around the table and sometimes we went up to 16
to 18 people, and we just kept going on and on.
Was that a good thing, or a usual thing?
I've never allowed mediation to go on like that. We'd get on a role, you know, and not that
we wouldn't necessarily resolve something but they actually got serious about talking about
whatever issue we were dealing with, and I was just lucky to stop it, cause it kept moving, and
nobody said, "hey, let's quit." We took breaks. We'd go eat dinner or something, but they were
just a strange group of people. We had one attorney die on us, about the 4th month into this
thing. He had a heart attack at home one night after the sessions. When we took a break it was
never more than a week and the way the process would work is that we would put on the table
issue x to start with that day. We could move to any issue we wanted to just based on how we
were proceeding on a particular issue but when we were done with that issue we would have a
tentative agreement on that issue. And so we would stop and take a break once we hit an
agreement on that. I would type up the tentative agreement. We would run off copies so that
everybody had their own. We would sit there and read it, and everybody would go through it.
Once they were satisfied with it we would pass it around. We would have five signatures on five
different pieces of paper so that everybody had an original thing and then we'd set that aside. It
was a very definitive kind of process, but when you're dealing with that number of issues and
that number of people it seemed to be the only viable thing. And the funniest part of this whole
thing was we were down to two issues I think, and they weren't even major issues, one of them
had to do with a promotion and I don't remember what the other one was and we had been
going. After these long grueling days people would just start getting nasty with each other and it
was the FOP that said we're not moving on this. This is it. Take this or just trash the whole
thing and we're ready to go to court tomorrow. So then everybody started to position themselves
and it got tense. Freddy and I took a break and we talked about it, and we said forget it.
Yeah, this is Freddy and I. We said, "Forget it. These people
would jerk us around and they think they can jerk us around. We're just going to close the
mediation and go home." So we came back in and we asked them if anybody was prepared to
move off of their position and went around the table and everybody said no. And so I said in
that case we are turning in the mediation. We're going to go to the airport tomorrow because we
were unsuccessful and we're going home. And we turned around and walked out of there. And
the next morning we were both at the airport.
Oh you were actually going to go. I thought this was just a technique you used.
No, we were ticked. We were done. I mean you have to know the history of what went on.
And we were always nice about the whole thing. And we were done. We weren't going to do
anymore. We were serious. We get to the airport and drop off the rental car and here come all
these people running down the hall, wait, wait, wait. We can do this. We can do this. Partly
because they didn't want us to go to the judge and tell them we hadn't done anything because
we're talking almost eight months now we'd been at this. But we'd reached our end and so we
sat down and three days later we had a completed agreement.
Now did the judge give you any time
constraints for mediating the case?
No, no. As long as it takes. See the judge didn't want to deal with it. Today Louisville still
has internal problems. One of the guys that got promoted, a black guy was a real nice guy, but
he got promoted way beyond where he needed to be and the pressures of trying to live up to that
position was difficult. He went from a sergeant to a major overnight. And he thought that was
great until he found out what it was like to be a major. And he didn't have the training. No one
taught this guy how to be a command officer. The city didn't really give this guy any training.
They said if you want to be it, fine you can be it, but we're not going to help you. I mean that
was their position. And he ended up taking an early retirement leave. There was a lot of
nastiness that came out of it and everything, but it was successful.
We're going to get to that part because there's a whole lot more detail that I want you to give
me about that particular case there. Go back to when the judge said okay I want you to mediate
it. Here are the parties. And you told me about the positions of the black officers of the
community. They wanted different hiring procedures and things like that. What was the stance,
or what was the position of the police department? Were they saying absolutely not, or what
were they saying?
The reason that the lawsuit was filed was because the city and the police department simply
said we don't think we're doing anything wrong. The NAACP and the black police officers
organization initially said it, and then they got the NAACP to support them and the Living
Events Fund came in. If it had been just the black police officers and the Logan chapter of the
NAACP and never went beyond that it would have never gone anywhere. It wouldn't have been
mediated. But because they convinced the Living Events Fund to come in they brought their two
lawyers from New York. There was a guy who was very difficult! Even
his own clients wanted to kill him. This guy just had this attitude about him that was very
disruptive to the process because everything he said was right. And he also had this, 'I'm from
New York and I know all about it' attitude. And I don't know if anybody at the table liked him.
That's an interesting factor in mediation. I prefer to do mediation without attorneys but you
can't always do that. They can mess up a situation as opposed to help the parties. They even
had their own clients just really going at the table.
What were some of the conflicts here? Obviously that's an example of internal conflict.
It was almost all attitude. It was that, 'I know what is best for you' and so I'm saying that the
police department has to do "X." And the black police officers we're saying "Well we don't
have to go that far. That's not necessary. We can do this, and that's going to deal with the
problem and that's going to get us where we want to be." And this guy is saying "No, that's not
good enough. This is how it's going to be." Not this is a point for discussion. He was saying
this is how it's going to be or we're going back to court. So we were constantly stopping and
taking caucuses, you know breaking them into four different groups, because of the conflict
between this guy and his own clients, the people from the black police officers organization.
There never was anybody there from the NAACP, the local chapter. It was always the legal
defense from the NAACP representing the black police officers organization. I remember the
mayor's guy said, "look we're just going to leave and give you a piece of paper. You write out
the agreement. We'll sign it in the morning." Just irritating. Everybody just lived with it
through the thing. I mean eventually, I don't know, common sense won out. His clients would
talk to him. His co-counsel was always talking to him. The mediators took him out and we'd
caucus with him and tell him lighten up, lighten up, lighten up because you are going to screw
this thing up. And everybody kept pounding at the guy and eventually just overwhelmed him I
guess or something. You know you just want to kill somebody. And he had that attitude.
So you were telling me what the interest of the law enforcement was.
They said that they had done everything.
The way they assigned people was fair and equitable. They said that they had a good
recruiting program. They couldn't help it that blacks weren't applying. They said that the
reason that there were no blacks above the Sergeant position was because there haven't been any
openings. They had an answer for every item that was raised and were comfortable with that.
So that was their basic response and they tried through the negotiating process with the union to
negotiate a process that they were accustomed to in the unions, but it was all about wages. They
were negotiating the wages for the FOP. All these other issues came about and they thought they
could deal with them the same way they dealt with the money issue and they couldn't. And
that's when the lawsuit was filed. That's when the NAACP and the legal defense came into the
picture and then it became a formalized structure kind of process. I don't think they'd gotten
into discovery yet so this was brand new when the judge wanted to refer it to us. And there's an
advantage to that because at least they hadn't really had an opportunity to sit down and clarify
positions on the lawsuit.
Did either of the parties, or any of the
involved ever ask you to do things that you were just unable to do and how do you handle such a
They would try and I really can't think of anything specific but obviously they would try to
get you to do things. The way that I deal with that is through establishing the ground rules and
the working relationship that's going to occur between the mediators and the parties. In that
process I make sure that the ground rules (without being over-burdensome) are clear and
definitive as to roles. And I let it be known that that's it. Don't ask me to do something that
isn't on this page, you know that kind of thing. Here's my role and I'm very clear. One of the
things that I think is actually critical to mediation is that the parties know exactly how their
mediator views mediation and how he runs the process, and where the start and stop points are.
I'm real adamant about that. Because I communicate that up front clearly and we put most of it
on paper and they sign it, usually there's not a problem. It doesn't come up very often that they
ask me to do something that isn't on the paper.
So you come to the table with that in mind and say hey you're signing off on this process
we're done with that.
We've set the ground rules-- that's it.
Could you give us an idea of what the basic ground rules are? How would you characterize
I know this sounds really simplistic or at least to me it sounds simplistic, but it's important.
For example, one person speaks at a time. You know that sounds real childish but that's
important. So you put a couple of those in and then if there's anything that's specific to that
particular case that you think is important. I try not to overwhelm them. I never have more than
a page. Never. And that includes an explanation and that's the whole document. I guess aside
from the common sense stuff, I put in there that everything is tentative pending the whole
package. Or in some instances they've got to go to somebody else, or you know, maybe to
another organization to get them to say yeah that's good we'll go with that. So you put that in
there. I always put in that the mediator has the final words to the process. Those are the kinds of
things, I mean they're really common sense basic kinds of things, just like maybe 4, 5, or 6
specific items that's it. But everybody has to sign it. You go over it before we sign it and make
sure everybody is clear on it.
Again going back to the Louisville case, did
you already have a goal in mind when you went to the judge or decided to take this case? Did
you already have a goal in mind about what you wanted to happen or is that something that
developed over the eight months?
Well, I mean the goal was to provide mediation to resolve that lawsuit.
Did you have any minimum expectations? Specific expectations?
Yeah to bring mediation to completion. I know it sounds simple but that's it. I guess the
easiest way to say it is the goal would be to bring the parties to agreement on all issues and
produce a mediation document signed by all the parties that the judge will find acceptable, you
know or something to that effect. Basically that's it. I consider it successful if we provide the
forum for mediation. We try the mediation and if it works we're successful and if it doesn't
work we're successful. We're not always happy about that success but we're successful because
we did what we said we were going to do. We provided the forum and we took them through the
process. If for some reason they were unable to get together and resolve their issues that's not
the fault of the mediator. It's not my job as a mediator to resolve the issues for them. That's
their job. My job as a mediator is to run the process, to facilitate the process. That's it. I don't
have to resolve the issues for them. As long as I do the thing and I do it well, then I've been
successful. I do training for kids in schools on peer mediation and I tell them a lot of times
you're not going to be successful in bringing the parties to an agreement but you're going to be
successful in terms of having provided the forum for them to do that. If they can't reach an
agreement, that's not your fault. Don't feel bad about it as long as you did the best job you can
do and provided them with the process. And so I couch things in terms of if I do my job then
I'm successful and I've accomplished my goal. If they can't do their job I do not take
responsibility for that.
And the safeguards are built into the process to help them resolve the conflict? The process
in and of itself is going to enable or assist those parties to resolve the conflict, right? By you
saying that's okay, at this particular time you are going to state your issues, now that's allowing
them to hear the other side and actually listen to what's being said. Then the next step of the
process is to highlight one of those issues and go through it step by step. So, I'm saying the
process in and of itself, if it works properly, the goal is that they'll be able to resolve their
conflict based upon the methodology of the process. Is that right?
You could say that if you wanted to. I still view it the way I stated it and that is simply that;
it's not my job to resolve the issues.
What's the goal of the process then?
The goal is to provide the process. The process doesn't have to have a goal.
What's the purpose of the process then?
To provide the forum for mediation. To provide an opportunity for the two parties,
there are two of them, to come together in that particular arena and to work out an agreement on
their issues. And if the mediator provides the opportunity for them to do that then the mediator
is successful. If the parties are sincere about resolving the issues through mediation then they
will. If they aren't or if one of the parties isn't sincere about that, and is just going through the
motions of doing mediation so they can say they tried mediation, then they're not going to
resolve the issues. That has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the mediator or the
mediation process. That is due to the fact that they don't want to resolve it in that venue. I mean
ideally the intent is to have them resolve it, but the reality of it is that if I provide them with an
adequate process, and the forum to do it, and they don't do it then it's their faults not mine and
I've been successful.
You've mentioned that sometimes people don't always negotiate on
good faith, that they are insincere, did that ever happen in the case of the Louisville police
department and the black police officers?
It started out that way. The FOP was there just to protect their own interests. They really
didn't care; they had no vested concern in the issues. With the possible exception that it could
have an impact on their people, white officers in the department, if something happened in terms
of assignments and promotions. For example, the white guy might not get a promotion or might
not get an assignment because they gave it to a black guy.
And you said this was fifteen years ago, so that's 85?
Actually it might even be longer than that. Yeah it was like the late 70s early 80s,
And so how did you handle that situation when you knew that they were just there to bide
their time basically? How did that affect your job?
I don't know that it affected it at all one way or the other. Nobody came out and said that,
okay that was our read on the situation. Our read was that the city wanted this to go away and
wanted the lawsuit to be settled out of court. They had to be careful in what they allowed to take
place simply because of the political atmosphere. The black police officers were looking to get
what they saw as equitable treatment but also there were several of them there that were looking
to make a buck out of it too. And that's kind of the picture that we saw. Now that doesn't mean
that those views and positions can't change or that they're necessarily going to have a negative
impact. They're going to have an impact, but it doesn't necessarily have to be bad. And so we
just worked it as, here are the issues, we're going to mediate this thing and they're going to
resolve the issues one way or the other. And if they can't do it here then they know they're
going back to court. And what will happen in the mediation is they'll very quickly get a sense
for where they stand, or where they think they stand in terms of where they're going and that
will have a big impact on whether they change or not. Some things you just take as a given and
you just ride with it and see where it takes you. My sense is that sometimes we tend to
complicate the mediation process which is really not necessary.
Now in this particular case, mentioning that, did you feel that the
conflict became defined a
little bit differently as time went on?
No it was the same. There were clear issues. That's the one good thing about that situation
was that the issues were pretty clear and definitive and the numbers were there. The data was
So there weren't any factual discrepancies?
No there were a lot of discrepancies because people would express their position on an issue
and over a period of time they came to distort the issue.
They'd make statements like a black has never held a position above Sergeant. Well that's
not true and the city could show that in fact they'd had an assistant chief who was black. They'd
had a black captain. They'd had a black major. They had a bunch of black lieutenants. Over
the history of the department they'd had these but what had happened is that the black officers
just kept saying nobody has been above a Sergeant. And all of a sudden that becomes the truth
for them and it wasn't the truth. Factually that wasn't the truth, but for the black officers that
was real-- it had just materialized to that point. I could just cite that for a whole bunch of
different issues from the cities perspective, from the FOP's perspective, and from the black's
perspective. This is just human nature. We allow things to become something that they're not
because of the emphasis that we place on it.
Now once the facts were actually given and provided did the other
side accept those as facts?
Well let's just take the one we were just talking about. As I recall the response was
something to the effect of well, yeah we forgot about that, but that was 30 years ago. We're
talking about today. And that happened with those kinds of issues. People reluctantly
understand that the historical data is there because it's on paper and people can prove it. But
because they've made that an issue and they've stated their position, somehow there's got to be
some face saving taking place here and so we change the focus to today. That's what we're
talking about. And that way everybody has saved face all the way around the table. And that
happens a lot and it happened a lot in this case.
So they didn't lose any of their validity?
Their perspective, was "well we showed you." It's incredible to me how childish adults can
I don't know why because I see it repeatedly day after day but it has a whole "one-upsmanship."
Well we showed you that you were wrong. Yeah you did but you had to go back thirty years to
do it. It has that whole attitude. So everybody feels that they've made their point and now we
just have to figure out how to get it down on paper. That's the trick. <
Did you find it necessary at any time to help
either one of the parties in this situation to prioritize their issues or did they already have that?
We took them through an exercise. I went to the FOP, and that was done individually, I said
make me a list of your issues and then give me a list of what you think all the issues are that
should come to the table. Those aren't necessarily going to be the same lists. The same with the
City and with the black police officers. The black police officers filed the lawsuit. My
contention is, and my position is that, the person who said, "you did this" and is raising the issue
is the one who should state the issues. And so I used their list as the guide from which we
operated. So what we did then were some comparisons and we decided okay, here's the list of
the black police officers, these are the ones they are going to court with, these are the ones the
judge said we're supposed to deal with. But in order to successfully do that, are there others we
are going to have to address? If there are, let's put them on the list. So city, do you any that need
to be on this? So then we got this list and we cleaned it up. We're just getting the basics down,
When you say we, this is all the parties involved, or is this you in the government years?
Well, no it's not me in the governing year alone, it's the party or parties and the mediators.
So we might sit down, I don't know if we did this, I think we just stayed all together at the table
as I recall, but you could sit down with each party. But the way we did it every step of the way
I'd type it up. So, I'd type the following list of all the issues, and Xerox it and gave everybody a
copy in front of them. I'd say, now we're going to go through this one step at a time, we're
going to take item one, item two, item three, and we're going to word the issue so everybody is
comfortable with it, ok. So we went through and what we basically did is clean up the list. Then
I typed up the list and everybody initialed it and this is the list, and I said, now this is what's
coming to the table, and nothing else. Three days down the road, two weeks down the road, you
don't bring in another issue; this is what we're dealing with from day 1, that's it. So everybody
signed it and initialed it, and that's what we brought to the table. But we didn't take it upon
ourselves to do that, now I have on occasion taken the prerogative as the mediator to say,
particularly where I see there's a need for help, because I think it's important that the issues are
clear. I have taken a list of issues, that as a community group we'd come up with and I polished
it up, and cleaned it up, and prioritized it and given it back. Given it back to them and said what
do you think about this? They said, oh yeah, that's good, and I said to them that's what we're
going to take to the table. But if they have a problem with it, we're going to sit there, and
collectively we're going to come up with a final list. Part of the reason we do that is face saving,
for the other side. One of the things I have found is that officials love to see poor grammar on
paper coming at them because it makes them feel so much more secure. Because I know that,
and I don't like that, I have helped clean up something so it's clearer, more definitive, part of
that's a cultural thing on my part. Part of it's also a way of leveling the field a little bit, because
sometimes it adds that little bit of emphasis to one side, that I'm better than you are because you
cannot write English. That puts them in a more solidifying position and they are more willing to
negotiate, and I try to eliminate that up front, so I've done that a couple of times. I'm not clear
whether that's something a mediator should do or not. But I've never had a problem with it. I
don't see it as violating.
Did you have any effective techniques for
persuading a party to modify their position at any time?
I don't know, but I'm sure I've played on the minds of people in all kinds of ways. To try
and get them to rethink positions, not to change their minds. I don't ever try to get somebody to
change their mind. I tell them if that's what you want, that's what you're going to go with, fine.
But, maybe think of rewording it a different way. I mean clean it up a little. I make suggestions
all along those lines. My job is to facilitate a process, these are grown adults by and large, and
I'm not there to hold their hand. I'm not there to hold their hand and I'm not there to do their
work for them. I mean it's their issue; it's their community.
Is it always, and again this is general, but is it that simple to sort of separate yourself from
some of the issues, or cases that you're involved in?
No, but I like to present that, so people think I know what I'm doing. It's not and I can think
of many times when I sat there, and said I gotta do something, I can't let these clowns get away
with this crap. But, in the real world life's just like that sometimes, and you win a few, you lose
a few. I really try to be fair, and I really try to be neutral, I know that there are times when I
probably haven't been as much as I could've been. But when I've done that I've probably
justified it in my mind in terms of staying on this level, or these guys could really use some help
you know. But, I pretty consistently stick with my philosophy that these are grown adults that
you're going to have to deal with, I'm presenting them with an arena within which to do combat
and I'm going to make sure that they each have the same weapon. But you know then they've
got to figure out their strategy to kill the other guy. I can't be giving them strategy, it's one too
Let's talk about trust, the significance of trust, not only in this case of Louisville, and
the police officers, but in general as a mediator, how important is it for you to gain the trust of
Well, I think it's extremely important. Let's say I'm doing mediation and during the process,
my sense is that I didn't gain the trust of one of the parties, or both of the parties, and the
mediation is not successful, and maybe we go back to court or whatever else they were doing. In
that particular situation, I would then not view that I had made my goal. I would not have
accomplished the goal because that element, not having gained that trust which is part of the
mediation process, is unsuccessful. So the mediation wasn't successful and I accept the blame
for that. I also recognize that there are going to be individuals that are not going to trust me no
matter what I do, simply because I'm a Fed or simply because I am white.
Before we took a little break you were talking about how race may affect your job. How
position with the Department of Justice may affect your job. Could you just continue talking
What was the context?
I think you were talking about it in terms of the trust issues with the parties who were
involved in this particular case, the Louisville police department and black police officers.
The trust issues there were ok. They got better as time went along which will happen in all
situations unless you've had a history or experience with somebody in other circumstances of the
case activity or something. At the initial point of contact I think the trust level is generally low
because the other people just don't know who you are or where you're coming from. Often just
the term the Department of Justice pops these pictures into people's minds of all kinds of things
and most of them (but not all of them) are kind of pointed away from the trust as opposed to
toward trust. But you work around that and you build it. You can build it over a short period of
time if you put some effort into it. My experience has been just shoot straight with people and
generally speaking that is enough.
I think that also before we broke you were talking about the building trust or sustaining trust
in a group and that's when you were explaining that some people are simply not going to trust
you because of maybe some exterior factors or whatever. Was that the case with the Louisville
No, first of all we went in with a biracial team.
Why was that important?
Again it creates pictures in people's minds. A lot of that takes place on a subconscious level.
I'm speculating here but I guess that most people don't say "Oh good a biracial team. We trust
both of them now." But I think on a subconscious level they could sense a message that there's
some equity here because the picture is kind of even.
How would it have been different for instance if only you went into that situation or only
partner had gone into that situation?
Well, if only I had gone into it, I would have had to work harder with the black police
officers organization because all of the FOP people are white. Actually the city team was
diverse, and just by the very nature of how we are in this county, how we've been categorized,
and the same holds true the other way. In fact it's probably more devastating the other way. I
think a lot of times the people representing the Community Relations Services of the Department
of Justice, if they are a minority, are perceived to be advocates more so than I am.
And what are you seen as?
I'm the typical federal employee. That's what I'd expect from the Department of Justice kind
Is there a certain amount of validity, credibility that goes along with that?
I'm sure there's some but I wouldn't attach any weight to it but I'm sure it's happened. And I
don't know that it makes that big of a difference to be honest with you.
You don't feel that race or ethnicity affects...?
Oh no, I'm sure it does I just like to think it's not that big of a factor.
Well, yeah we'd like to but by the nature of the work into which this organization was born,
we know that that's not exactly true, so that's why I think we asked the question about how does
your race and ethnicity affect the job that you have to do.
It just makes it tougher to go in a minority situation particularly a black community, and find
Were you ever able to work effectively when you felt the trust levels were low between
yourself and the parties, or between both parties or all of the parties?
Yeah, I mean I go in and I know who I am and I realize that the people that I'm meeting for
the first time don't know who I am but because I feel comfortable with who I am I don't worry
about that thing. I know it comes up. When it comes up I'll deal with it. I don't go in thinking I
have to deal with this.
So no one ever comes to you and says, maybe not in the Louisville case, but other cases that
you were involved with. When you went into minority communities, did people approach you
and say what are you doing here and I don't trust you because you are white, because you are
male, because you are a certain age.
I don't think I've ever had anybody say that to me. I'm sure that people have thought it but I
don't think anybody has ever said that. I don't recall anybody ever having said that.
Tell me what was good about the process that you utilized in building trust between the
Specifically from the Memphis case?
The Louisville case, sure.
What was there we didn't have to build on and I don't think we ever looked past that point. I
think there were already established levels of trust with the exception of the outsiders who were
CRS and the Legal Defense Fund. The rest of them were already where they would ever get in
terms of trust. The city was probably in better shape in terms of trust with the black police
officers organization. Let me just restate. There were already existing levels of trust excluding
the Legal Defense Fund and CRS. I think that one, because we were referred by the judge, two,
because we were able to present ourselves in an acceptable manner. Our trust levels rose or the
level of trust toward us rose to an adequate level, I don't know if it's the best level, but to an
adequate level. The Legal Defense Fund was never trusted by the city who viewed them as only
there for attorneys fees, and was never trusted by the FOP because they were just these
from New York. I'm not convinced that the trust level between the black police officers
organization and the Legal Defense Fund was where it could be simply because I think that in
reality they were thinking the same thing that the city was thinking, that they were just there to
collect attorneys fees. But they thought that was okay because they were helping them in the
And with you being able to witness the levels of mistrust going on did that impair your job at
all or did you try to build the levels up at any time?
On a very soft plane I think we probably worked in an ongoing fashion to improve trust
Like what? What's soft?
Oh you know just when we would caucus with individual groups we would just kind of talk
about where we saw points that would make that particular party that we were caucusing with
have a positive kind of feel toward the trust of the other groups. But that wasn't a big priority
because it wasn't getting in the way.
Can you think of any other cases where it may have gotten in the way? That you actually
needed to take more of an initiative to increase the levels of trust?
No I can't think of it.
Can you recall any examples in this particular case where you served
as a scapegoat or in some other way that helped a party save face?
Nothing specific jumps to mind. Then again I'm sure a lot of these things happened. Let me
think about it for a second.
Did you provide any technical assistance to the parties involved in
police officer case? How did you help the parties strengthen their own capacity in how they
dealt with the conflict?
No I don't think we did anything along those lines. We're talking about the Louisville thing
Yes. No consultants, no referrals.
No, I don't use consultants.
As a rule?
I've never used a consultant.
Can you elaborate on that? You must have a reason why.
Nope, just never have. I've never seen the need for one. I probably haven't known anybody
that I would feel comfortable enough to say here's the person that's going to answer your
question and you know I'm going to pay to bring him in and help you. See I know there are
other people at CRS that like to do that all the time. I mean this is pure speculation on my part,
but I'm not convinced at all that they can demonstrate that that made a difference; that bringing
in that consultant did anything other than just throw in another point of view. If you have got to
bring someone in as a consultant, then I think that person is going to come in and solve the
problem. I don't know many people that can go in and solve the types of problems that we deal
When I think of it in terms of consulting, I think of it in ways that you just described but I
also think maybe there was a case that you were involved with that you didn't have that much
experience or background information on and so you consulted an outside resource to further
develop your knowledge about the situation or you told one party that this is somebody that
could help you.
I mean I have made suggestions like I've told school systems to get in touch with their
organization because they're a good source of information but that's not a consultant that's just
making people aware of where some resources are.
That's a type of technical assistance.
I know that's technical assistance. I've done that and I've put people in touch with the police
department or a chief of police that I know has a particular program that I think might be
applicable or that kind of thing.