Police Work On Minor Neighbor Disputes Would Be Curbed under Village Program
With roughly 25 percent of police work being resolving neighbor disputes over property boundaries, noise or leaf raking, among other issues, a new mediation program would provide an alternative and free up police for other calls.
Roughly 25 percent of the Shorewood Police Department's work is classified as “social work," mediating minor conflicts between neighbors.
The most common issues between neighbors include pets, fences, tree limbs, parking and noise, in addition to seasonal complaints about lawn mowing, leaf raking and snow shoveling.
The village hopes to curb the department's "social work" with a new program — the Neighborhood Mediation Program — which would work to resolve minor conflicts between neighbors before they become larger conflicts and free up police to response to more pressing issues.
“Shorewood PD is happy we have another option for neighbors, “ Police Chief David Banaszynski said. “Sometimes neighbors have issues with each other, issues that don‘t all fit into the same box.”
The Mediation and Restorative Justice Center, a program of Wisconsin Community Services, Inc., would join forces with Shorewood to provide the mediation services at a cost not to exceed $2,000. If approved, services could start as soon as January 2013. The program would be subject to renewal for additional services after a review by the village.
The program is expected to be free and would provide a phone number to call, in lieu of phoning police, if in need of the mediation services. From there, trained individuals would serve as mediators.
Banaszynski said the neighborhood issues do not always warrant a citation so the mediation program would be effective in solving those kinds of issues. The Neighborhood Mediation Act would give residents an outlet to resolve their problems and free up police time to respond to other calls.
Village Manager Chris Swartz developed a neighborhood mediation workgroup consisting of police and Health Department officials, chosen because they tend to be more involved in responding to neighborhood conflict. The workgroup examined models of neighborhood mediation groups in other cities.
In communities like West Allis and Greenfield which use a mediation program in lieu of police to resolve minor issues, the one big drawback is parties need to be willing to use mediation. However, when the service is used, it works.
Some Shorewoodians came to the same conclusion; the program could not hurt. Silvia Garcie grew up in Shorewood and shares those sentiments.
“Growing up I never witnessed conflicts between neighbors, but the more options Shorewood has the better.” Garcie said.
Officials are expected to discuss the program at its next board meeting Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall, 3930 N. Murray Ave.