DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A first-of-its-kind program that launched in Dayton this spring is already looking to expand. Dayton’s mediation team helps to reduce police call-outs by responding to conflicts before they get worse.
Since the Dayton Mediation Response Unit (MRU) launched on May 23, the team has responded to 400 non-crime-related calls in the City of Dayton.
“Anything that involves people in conflict but not weapons. Things like loitering, peace, officer requests, disorderly subjects, neighbor disputes, roommate troubles,” MRU Coordinator Raven Cruz Loaiza said.
The MRU formed out of the city’s police reform initiatives. The City of Dayton formed working groups after the death of George Floyd to look at ways to improve policing in the city.
“It was one of the big recommendations to try to get law enforcement out of situations that really we don’t need to be in,” Maj. Christopher Malson, head of the Dayton Police Department’s Operations Support Division, said. “Conflict-type resolutions, things that don’t require police enforcement because there’s no crime or no law that’s being violated.
The mediation team responds to non-crime and non-emergency calls so police officers can focus on building better relationships with the community.
“Allowing the mediation response unit to respond to some of those low-emergent calls allows officers, number one, to respond to higher emergent calls in a more quick and effective manner, as well as allows them to spend some of their time doing community engagement work and really getting to know the community and the people in our community,” Cruz Loaiza said.
“We’re in a situation where the officers are running call to call the call their whole shift, then some of the things that we can’t get done is stopping by those community events, the meetings, spending an extra few minutes, talking to somebody,” Malson said.
The team works alongside the Dayton Police Department. They share the same radio system and can be dispatched to calls in the same way police are.
This allows people who are trained mediators to deal with conflicts and resolve situations before they ever need police involvement.
“You get something, small neighbors arguing over a trash can or something, and then over time, it builds more animosity, more conflict between the neighbors, and then that grows.” Malson said. “If nobody comes in and stops that path, then there’s the potential that that path could become more serious.”
Right now the unit has seven team members, but they’re now hiring two additional team members. Cruz Loaiza says their goal is to turn the center into a 24/7 service.
“We are hoping to do that, but we have to take the steps in order to get that,” Cruz Loaiza said.
People can reach the Dayton Mediation Center by calling 911, 333-COPS, calling the Mediation Center directly at 937-333-2345, or even stopping by the center on on West Second Street during operating hours.