Former CRS Mediator, Dallas Office; Private Mediator and Trainer
Let's talk about what you do when you see a potential for violence?
It generally involves police departments. The best thing to do is to create as much public awareness as possible about what's going on. The more light you can shine on this community issue and make everybody aware of what's going on, the less likely that violence is going to occur, regardless of where it's coming from. The first thing is just to get everybody out there and talking about what's happening. Then you try to create response systems that include the community.
For example, one situation was in a park at night where there was a lot of violence involving black youth. The police were trying to deal with it and one of our recommendations was to get the adult male pastor to come into those parks and help. The police were more likely to cause more violence to occur. So our suggestion wasn't the answer to the problems, but it was a way of working with the current situation and trying to diminish the possibility of violence right then.
We try to find people who have influence with the people who you fear might cause the violence. Again, those personal leaders. I used to tell school districts, "If you want to stop trouble in the hallways, put some other kids or parents in the hallways." A generation of school administrators cried "We want the parents out of the schools."
Same thing in a community. You can't hire enough police officers to police the community. We have got to get the community involved in policing. It's amazing--our presence, whether it was me or any of us, could create calm. There was a calming effect. We are good talkers, we can create hope. They don't have to take one particular route, there is an alternative.