By: Giovanni Zaburoni
The President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police is apologizing to minority communities “for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.” Terrence M. Cunningham is the chief of police in Wellesley, Massachusetts and as the president of America’s largest police organization, he presides over more than 23,000 members in 98 countries, according to CNN. Violent encounters between police and members of predominately minority neighborhoods is not new. It’s only in the past few years that cell phone video has started capturing the actions of police officers when they are dealing with people of color, proving what these communities have already known, but never had the proof to share on a global platform.
According to the Grio, Cunningham says, “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. While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future.” Cunningham sees this admission of past wrongs as the first step in moving forward and correcting the relationship between law enforcement and people of color.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund released a statement offering additional steps to take saying, “Some next steps: require anti-bias training; discipline officers who engage in bias policing.” Reverend Al Sharpton of the National Action Network has welcomed this apology but he wants to see more than words. He wants action. He says he, “is keenly aware of the power of words but knows they are meaningless if nothing changes.” Sharpton also hopes Cunningham “will urge officers around the United States to back his words up with action and legislation to protect communities of color from the onslaught of police misconduct that has disturbed the country.”
While Cunningham has offered his apology for the wrongs made by his fellow officers, Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James Comey is saying anyone that thinks there’s an epidemic of Black people being shot by police is uninformed, but there are no statistics to back up his claim. He is in the process of trying to get law enforcement agencies to report statistics on officer involved shootings. The FBI just announced a pilot program to get those details from police departments starting in 2017, according to CNN.