Earlier this week, in San Diego, at the 2016 national conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, an organization listing more than 23, 000 police officials in the U.S., an astounding thing happened. Police Chief Terrence M. Cunningham, the head of police forces in Wellesley, Mass., the president of this organization, which is the largest police organization in the USA, issued a ringing public apology to America’s “communities of color.”
“Events over the past several years have caused many to question the actions of our officers and has 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. At the same time, it is also clear that the history of policing has also had darker periods. State and federal laws have sometimes 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 between many communities of color and their law enforcement agencies.”
“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.”
Wow!! That is a major statement deprived of bombast, obstreperousness, and the usual denial of any police culpability in the public protests and discontent over inappropriate police behavior. Take this statement immediately to the next L.A. Police Commission meeting and request a sit-down with police executives.
Maybe, based on this fresh start, a new forward step can come forth. It is certainly more than worth a few tries to get it done. L.A.’s own BLM chapter has been fuming and agitating for some positive break in the blue phalanx, and here it is. Maybe now, there can be some real diplomatic dialogue forward.
“Forward ever, Backward never,” a famous president once said. Let’s try this out, together.
Who are the willing? Speak up. Step forward. Let’s break bread and negotiate out a better path for L.A.’s future. The opportunity is here and the time is now.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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