It was an important moment in the history of policing in the United States when the head of the country’s largest police organization acknowledged and apologized for the “historical mistreatment” of people of color at the hands of law-enforcement.
Terrence Cunningham, who is the chief of police in Wellesley, Massachusetts, as well as of the nonprofit International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), made the apology during the organization’s convention in San Diego.
“The history of policing has also had darker periods," Cunningham said, referring to draconian state and federal laws that "required police officers to perform many unpalatable tasks" over the years.
"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," he added. “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."
While his much-needed – and delayed – apology attracted appreciation and applause, a lot of people thought his focus on past mistreatment of police officers overlooked the problems currently afflicting minorities.
I'm less interested in police acknowledging historical mistreatment than taking action to end police violence currently impacting our lives.— Samuel Sinyangwe (@samswey) October 17, 2016
Apologies don't make us safer. Transformational change re: policing does.— Samuel Sinyangwe (@samswey) October 17, 2016
In fact, the apology came nearly a day after a black man was arrested for allegedly walking on the road where the sidewalk was under construction in Edina, Minnesota. And it was just one of the many racial profiling incidents recorded this year.
The IACP has around 27,000 members from across the globe, which makes it the largest police organization of not just the United States but also the world.