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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New way to resolve complaints against police, fire, and other government agencies

Online dispute resolution service PeopleClaim.com is giving local communities a way to vent frustrations with government services, including public safety agencies like police and fire departments.

Front-page news stories during the past year have illustrated today's complex, dysfunctional, and sometimes fatal relations between citizens and law enforcement agencies. But excessive-force cases like those in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York are just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of less-sensational incidents are chronicled each year by official and watchdog organizations, and many more go unreported. Whether it's a case of brutality or basic civil rights, victims are often reluctant to tell their stories.

New community pages hosted by PeopleClaim.com help citizens in two ways. They can rate a variety of local government services (including police, fire departments, and social services), and post comments about them. They can also file a claim against the offending party, which will post publicly if not resolved in ten days. The site's directory of city pages is available at http://www.peopleclaim.com/location/.

Posted claims invite the public to share opinions and suggest fair and just ways to settle. The neutral online channel plus the chance to air the incident publicly encourages people to file who might otherwise hold back because they're uncomfortable with formal grievance processes or worried about possible reprisals. 

According to PeopleClaim founder Mark Deuitch, "We've found that many folks are more comfortable making a complaint public rather than filing it internally with a police department or other government agency. Inviting public comment can sometimes help expose patterns of behavior, and it can also bring out good ideas for resolving the problem."

PeopleClaim is like a social network for people in need says Deuitch. “It helps engage the public to bring awareness to problems and helps resolve them in the safety of open and public exposure of unfair treatment, bad business, or more serious problems.”

PeopleClaim was started with the goal of creating a level playing field for any business or consumer to get complaints heard through the "court of public opinon." Originally funded with three million dollars in angel investment, the website has helped consumers and citizens inside and outside the United States, and has processed approximately 30,000 claims to date. 

Recently-launched PeopleClaim Pakistan is a test case for expanding equal justice in developing countries. 

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