Community Relations Service (CRS), created by the Civil Rights Act of
1964, is a specialized federal conciliation service available to State
and local officials to help resolve and prevent racial and ethnic
conflict, violence and civil disorder. It sends experienced mediators to
assist local communities' efforts to settle destructive conflicts and
disturbances relating to race, color or national origin.
CRS lends its
services when requested or when it believes peaceful community relations
may be threatened. It relies solely on impartial mediation practices and
established conflict resolution procedures to help local leaders resolve
problems and restore community stability. CRS has no law enforcement
authority and does not impose solutions, investigate or prosecute cases,
or assign blame or fault. CRS mediators are required by law to conduct
their activities in confidence and without publicity; and are prohibited
from disclosing confidential information. Working in partnership with
the Civil Rights Division, local United States Attorneys' offices, and
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, CRS plays a critical role in easing
tensions in the aftermath of hate crimes and allegations of misconduct
by law enforcement officers, especially where the race of the victim is
alleged to have played a role in the officers' misconduct.
relations skills were called upon to restore stability and order in the
civil unrest in Los Angeles following the Rodney King case (where four
White Los Angeles police officers were caught on videotape beating Mr.
King, a Black motorist), and countless other civil disturbances across
the country. In response to President Clinton's call for a comprehensive
response by federal agencies to address church burnings, CRS staff
worked directly with more than 180 rural, suburban and urban governments
in seventeen states to help eliminate racial distrust and polarization,
promote multiracial construction of new buildings, conduct race
relations training for community leaders and law enforcement officers,
and provide technical assistance in ways to bring together law
enforcement agencies and minority neighborhoods.
Other areas of
CRS involvement include the prevention and resolution of racial
conflicts arising from the integration of public and private housing.
CRS works with community leaders and local law enforcement officials to
coordinate responses to issues raised by integration activities. CRS
also assists in disputes between tribal nations and outside communities
and addresses federal, state and local government concerns over tribal
jurisdiction, housing, schools, environmental, gaming, and tax