Mediation, Mentoring Part of Job

By Sara Faruqi, Toronto Police Service Published: 6 a.m. April 7, 2016

Often policing is about finding a middle ground in a confrontation, a role 13 Division Constable Courtney Peavoy says is a major part of her job.

The back of an officer writing in a notebook, in the background you can see the hands of a woman on a table
An officer takes a statement from a woman.

When Peavoy recently received a call from a Communications Dispatcher to check up on a woman who had called 9-1-1 and then hung up on the call-taker, she immediately went to the address and discovered that, although it wasn’t an emergency, she could still play a positive role and prevent future unnecessary calls to police.

At the address, Peavoy spoke to the woman who had called 9-1-1. The woman said everything was okay and she had just had an argument with her adult daughter. Sensing that the woman was a little shaken, Peavoy asked to speak to the daughter to make sure everything was okay.

“She said everything was fine and I could go, but I was concerned for what was going on… most people don’t call 9-1-1 and hang up. I just wanted to make sure everything was in order inside,” says Peavoy. 

She spoke to the daughter as her partner, Constable Robert Graham, remained downstairs with the mother. 

Upon speaking to the daughter, Peavoy could see the daughter suffered from anxiety and the mother and daughter were unable to communicate well with each other, leading to many arguments.

Peavoy then brought the daughter and mother into the living room together and spoke to the both of them.

“They were both extremely opposite people. Neither one was communicating appropriately with each other. They both had things to say and neither one was listening because they were so passionate about their feelings,” says Peavoy, on why she decided to take time to mediate the situation.

She got the two to speak to each other and offered some solutions such as getting the daughter back on anxiety medication and that the two of them seek some counseling to understand where the other is coming from. 

She also suggested they communicate by writing notes to each other, since they were having a hard time talking without fighting. “The conversations between the two of them were getting loud every time they spoke to each other,” said Peavoy. 

By the time she left, the mother and daughter were much calmer and more at ease. “You could see the weight come off their shoulders that they were able to get something out together,” says Peavoy. 

She says that, in this case, it seemed that they needed a figure of authority to mediate the situation. 

“They needed someone to show up and explain different perspectives and have a different view and be able to be neutral to both sides.”

The mother was so grateful for Peavoy’s help she sent a thank-you email to Peavoy’s supervisor.

“The officers did not leave until they seemed assured that the situation was truly under control. Without their help, I do not know what might have happened. I was in awe of Officer Peavoy's patience, wisdom, strength of character and immediate insights into a very complex and difficult situation. In a very short period of time, she was able to recognize problems and offer concrete and useful suggestions.  She remained calm, neutral and helpful to us both. Officer Peavoy is a real asset to the TPS. She deserves to be recognized as someone very special.  I shall always remember her and be grateful to her.”

While Peavoy didn’t focus the situation, only knowing that she had helped someone out, she went back to work and the next call, until she came to know of the mother’s email.

“A thank-you is good enough for me. This is way more than that,” she says, adding it does feel good to be appreciated but she is just doing her job.

Superintendent Scott Baptist said Peavoy settled a dispute and avoided further calls to 9-1-1.

“In a case like this, Constable Peavoy has acted in the proudest traditions of what we do as police officers, mediating in disputes and bringing people together to make society better and to bring end to conflict and find resolution that works for people," said Baptist, of the modest policing that goes on daily within the Service.

“Examples like this happen all the time where police officers show up at calls and no officer makes it out like it is a really big deal…  that they are able to show compassion and bring people on opposing sides together.”

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