Speaking before a convention for the International Association of Chiefs of Police in San Diego, Terrence Cunningham, the group’s president, expressed regret “for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of 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,” Cunningham said, according to The Washington Post. “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,” Cunningham continued.
He added that laws have been enacted at the state and federal levels 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 between many communities of color and their law enforcement agencies.”
The statement comes at a time when tensions are high across the United States over repeated incidents of police-involved fatalities of people of color. Cunningham, who is also chief of police in Wellesley, Massachusetts, was sworn in as the head of IACP in October of last year, and represents 18,000 members worldwide.
“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,” Cunningham said.
“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,” he concluded.