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Jan. 22, 2003
OSWEGO -- Tony Henderson, the residence hall director of SUNY Oswego's Cayuga Hall, was recognized recently for his longtime service to the Center for Dispute Settlement in Rochester and the organization's Civilian Review Board.
Henderson was one of four volunteers honored for longevity, owing to his more than 25 years of activity with the organization and more than 15 with the review board.
His connection began when he was a volunteer for Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Rochester in the early 1970s because "they needed minority men to be role models for kids," he said.
Henderson appeared on a radio show hosted by Dick Boddie, then the vice president of the center. After learning more about the dispute-resolution program, Henderson became certified in arbitration and mediation in April 1977.
One factor behind getting involved was that "I got tired of seeing people always going to court when they couldn't afford it," Henderson said. Settling problems through arbitration was a better solution, he added.
The Civilian Review Board was established in Rochester after police officers shot a young minority woman in the mid-1980s, Henderson said. "Since I had been an arbiter for about 10 years, I was selected to go through the training because they needed experienced people," he recalled.
"The most rewarding part for me, especially with the review board, was to see the attitude of the (Rochester) police department change when it came to handling complaints from the minority community," Henderson said. "There was a sense that police were no longer given carte blanche."
While he cannot be as involved in the program these days because of his Oswego location, Henderson said he has enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the justice system, the workings of a police department and conflict resolution. "And I like meeting people," he added. "I'm a people person."
Established in 1973 by American Arbitration Association, Rochester's Center for Dispute Settlement was the first dispute resolution center in the state and the third in the country, according to the agency's Web site.
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