The Dayton Mediation Center began in January of 1987 as a City service designed to help manage conflicts between citizens. The Division of Citizen Participation and Wright State University’s Center for Urban and Public Affairs jointly sponsored this effort.
Initially, only Dayton neighborhoods and Priority Boards were targeted for mediation services with the primary intention of preventing neighborhood conflicts from escalating and consuming other city resources. In April of 1989 the center’s services were extended by instituting the Small Claims Court mediation services. A primary stipulation of this new program was that agreements reached during Small Claims’ mediations would have the same legal ramifications as judgements rendered by the Court.
The Juvenile Mediation Program was added in July of 1990, offering Diversion mediation services. The program was created as an outgrowth of the Center’s working with the Ohio Supreme Court, Montgomery County Juvenile Court and Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution, for the purpose of reducing the recidivism rate for referred juvenile offenders.
In July 1997, the Dayton Police Department began a contract with the Dayton Mediation Center to provide mediation and conflict management services to citizens referred by Police Officers. This project gives Officers an opportunity to refer citizens to mediation when there isn’t police action that needs to be taken.
In 1999 the Mediation Center added two new programs. In connection with the Montgomery County Juvenile Court, the Center began Victim/Offender mediation services and the Truancy Mediation Program. Also, in 1999 the Center began the Adult Victim/Offender mediation program with the City of Dayton’s Prosecutor Office and the Dayton Municipal Court Criminal Division.
Volunteer citizens, serving as mediators, conduct most of the mediations at the Dayton Mediation Center. These citizens, representing diverse cultural backgrounds, are recruited from the Dayton area community. Currently there are 96 volunteers that are actively involved with the Dayton Mediation Center.
In addition to the programs the Dayton Mediation Center offers mediation services, conflict management training, and conflict management system development to community groups and local organizations.
In 2001 the Dayton Mediation Center in collaboration with the Northmont School District, established a Peer Mediation program at Northmont High School. Since establishing the first peer mediation program the Mediation Center has provided conflict management services to Dayton, Kettering, Northmont, and New Lebanon school districts.
The process of citizens solving their own problems through mediation was not a new idea in 1987, but it was novel to Dayton. At that time, assessments of the success such programs were far from complete and today there are a growing number of people who have heard about and are seeking help for the resolution of their conflicts through mediation. This service has made a significant difference in the quality of life in this community. Former City Commissioner Idotha Bootsie Neal expressed the thought well. She asked, “What would our community be like without the Dayton Mediation Center?”