CRS reputation

Leo Cardenas

 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

What happens if you look at the assessment and you can't come up with the win-win; it really looks like a win-lose? What do you do?

Generally, we'll try to exit ourselves as politely as we can. If a mediator has been on the scene, a mediator's reputation is at stake, so he'll come to me as the regional director, and then I will make the call. I'll say to the school superintendent and to the leadership, "Based on our assessment, and our workload," I'll even use that, "It'll be awhile before we can get back into your community."

Nancy Ferrell

 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I think his fears were similar to what most institutionsí fears are. He was afraid that they were going to be diminished. It was looking like they would have to get somebody in there to do their job, and that was part of why this worked. We didnít take credit, and that's why the CRS organization has such a hard time selling itself to congress. You canít sell the fact that we avoided a riot. You canít sell the idea that we now have students on this campus who feel like they have redress. You get lots of money flooding into Los Angeles when thereís a riot. But itís hard to get them to appropriate money to avoid a riot. Then the commitment of the CRS mandate was that we would do this as low-profile, and it wouldnít work otherwise. If we were showboating and taking credit then the institutions would have to worry. Their interests wouldn't be protected, and they wouldn't be as forthcoming. But if we really are there as an instrument of change, with everyoneís interests at heart then you have power to make things happen for them. If your interest is to get credit, then their interest is diminished and the next leader is not going to let you in. It's really a catch-22 and I'm not sure what the good answer is.

Martin Walsh

 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

As we get older at CRS, we're experiencing better relations with police. The support is coming from the IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police), and other national police organizations.

What do you attribute that to?

I think what we did was reach out to police chiefs and their organizations and more and more brought them into the process where they did not see us as a civil rights enforcement arm. They have a lot of problems at the Civil Rights Division, the patterns and practice section and the like. So it was a matter of education, outreach, communication with them. I think recruiting people on our staff who came from a police background helped. And then I think it's also a matter of what message about CRS goes around the police community. The image of CRS has changed with police over the years. In the early times of major civil disorders and very negative feelings about the police in minority communities, a number of our field people were very abrupt in dealing with police. There wasn't the comfort level. There was really a distance between us and law enforcement and I think law enforcement was very responsive to what was happening in civil rights and race relations. They did not feel comfortable in dealing with communities and problem-solving. It was a 'we against them' attitude and mind-set. So there's an historical sequence about the relationship between law enforcement and CRS over the years.

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