TOP COP APOL­O­GIZES:

Points to of­fi­cers’ role in ‘his­tor­i­cal mis­treat­ment’

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Tom Jack­man

The pres­i­dent of Amer­ica’s largest po­lice or­ga­ni­za­tion is­sued a for­mal apol­ogy Mon­day to the na­tion’s mi­nor­ity pop­u­la­tion “for the ac­tions of the past and the role that our pro­fes­sion has played in so­ci­ety’s his­tor­i­cal mis­treat­ment of com­mu­ni­ties of color.”

The pres­i­dent of Amer­ica’s largest po­lice or­ga­ni­za­tion is­sued a for­mal apol­ogy Mon­day to the na­tion’s mi­nor­ity pop­u­la­tion “for the ac­tions of the past and the role that our pro­fes­sion has played in so­ci­ety’s his­tor­i­cal mis­treat­ment of com­mu­ni­ties of color.”

Ter­rence Cun­ning­ham, pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice, de­liv­ered his re­marks at the group’s con­ven­tion in San Diego. The IACP mem­ber­ship includes 23,000 po­lice of­fi­cials in the United States.

The state­ment was is­sued on be­half of the IACP and comes as po­lice ex­ec­u­tives grap­ple with tense re­la­tion­ships be­tween of­fi­cers and mi­nor­ity groups in the wake of high-profile civil­ian deaths in Mis­souri, South Carolina, Min­nesota, Mary­land and else­where; the some­times vi­o­lent cit­i­zen protests that have en­sued; and the am­bush killings of of­fi­cers in Dal­las, Ba­ton Rouge, La., and other cities across the U.S. Po­lice chiefs have long rec­og­nized the need to main­tain good re­la­tions with their com­mu­ni­ties, of all races, and not al­low an us-vs.them men­tal­ity to take root. Cun­ning­ham’s com­ments are seen as an ac­knowl­edg­ment of po­lice de­part­ments’ past role in ex­ac­er­bat­ing ten­sions and a way to move for­ward and im­prove com­mu­nity re­la­tions na­tion­wide.

“Events over the past sev­eral years,” Cun­ning­ham said, “have caused many to ques­tion the ac­tions of our of­fi­cers and (have) trag­i­cally un­der­mined the trust that the pub­lic must and should have in their po­lice de­part­ments. ... The his­tory of the law en­force­ment pro­fes­sion is re­plete with ex­am­ples of bravery, self-sac­ri­fice and ser­vice to the com­mu­nity. At its core, polic­ing is a no­ble pro­fes­sion.”

Cun­ning­ham, the chief of po­lice in Welles­ley, Mass., added: “At the same time, it is also clear that the his­tory of polic­ing has also had darker pe­ri­ods.” He cited laws that “have re­quired po­lice of­fi­cers to per­form many un­palat­able tasks. ... While this is no longer the case, this dark side of our shared his­tory has cre­ated a multi­gen­er­a­tional — al­most in­her­ited — mistrust be- tween many com­mu­ni­ties of color and their law en­force­ment agen­cies.”

Cun­ning­ham con­tin­ued: “While we ob­vi­ously can­not change the past, it is clear that we must change the fu­ture. ... For our part, the first step is for law en­force­ment and the IACP to ac­knowl­edge and apol­o­gize for the ac­tions of the past and the role that our pro­fes­sion has played in so­ci­ety’s his­tor­i­cal mis­treat­ment of com­mu­ni­ties of color.”

He con­cluded: “It is my hope that, by work­ing to­gether, we can break this his­toric cy­cle of mistrust and build a bet­ter and safer fu­ture for us all.”

The IACP mem­bers present for Cun­ning­ham’s speech gave him a stand­ing ova­tion, IACP spokes­woman Sarah Guy said.

Af­ter his com­ments, Cun­ning­ham told The Wash­ing­ton Post in an email that “we have 16,000 po­lice chiefs and law en­force­ment of­fi­cials gath­ered here in San Diego and it is an im­por­tant mes­sage to spread. Com­mu­ni­ties and law en­force­ment need to be­gin a heal­ing process and this is a bridge to be­gin that di­a­logue. If we are brave enough to col­lec­tively de­liver this mes­sage, we will build a bet­ter and safer fu­ture for our com­mu­ni­ties and our law en­force­ment of­fi­cers. Too many lives have been lost al­ready, and this must end.”

The re­ac­tion out­side the con­ven­tion was mixed.

Cam­paign Zero co­founder DeRay Mckesson of Bal­ti­more said he looked for­ward to Cun­ning­ham’s com­ments be­ing backed up by struc­tural changes to polic­ing and the criminal jus­tice sys­tem.

Char­lene Car­ruthers, na­tional di­rec­tor for Chicagob­ased BYP100, said an apol­ogy didn’t go far enough.

Lt. Bob Kroll, head of the Po­lice Of­fi­cers Fed­er­a­tion of Minneapolis, thought Cun­ning­ham’s state­ment went too far. In his city, two white of­fi­cers fa­tally shot a black man last Novem­ber.

“Our pro­fes­sion is un­der at­tack right now and what we don’t need is chiefs like him per­pet­u­at­ing that we are all bad guys in law en­force­ment,” Kroll said. “I think it’s an asi­nine state­ment.”

Gar­land Pruitt, pres­i­dent of the NAACP’s Ok­la­homa City branch, said the apol­ogy was “way over­due.” An unarmed black man was fa­tally shot by a Tulsa of­fi­cer last month.

“It lets folks know there is a thing called com­pas­sion,” Pruitt said.

SCOTT OLSON/GETTY

Marchers in St. Louis mark the an­niver­sary of the death of Michael Brown, an AfricanAmer­i­can who was fa­tally shot by a Fer­gu­son, Mo., po­lice of­fi­cer in 2014.

Cun­ning­ham

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.