Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A National Police Leader Apologized to Minorities. Now St. Louis Area Chiefs React

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A National Police Leader Apologized to Minorities. Now St. Louis Area Chiefs React

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * Area police leaders have had a mixed reaction to an apology from the head of one of the largest police organizations in the country for "the role that the profession has played in society's historical mistreatment" of minorities.

Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said at the group's annual conference Monday that police had historically been a face of oppression, enforcing laws that ensured legalized discrimination and denial of basic rights.

"While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future," Cunningham said. "We must forge a path that allows us to move beyond our history and identify common solutions to better protect our communities.

"For our part, the first step in this process is for law enforcement and the [International Association of Chiefs of Police] 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 received a standing ovation from thousands of law enforcement officials, including Ferguson Chief Delrish Moss.

"I was actually surprised, pleasantly so, because the fact that an organization as respected and as large as the IACP thought it best to apologize is a great first step in starting to move the dialogue forward, and I'd love to see other police organizations follow suit," Moss said.

Moss said he appreciated Cunningham's recognition that police had been the face of oppressive laws.

"When Rosa Parks sat on the bus, it was the police who were called to arrest her," he said. "The truth is that because of laws that were passed, police officers were the enforcement arm of the law, and enforcement has a part in that oppression."

Moss said thousands of people were in the room for Cunningham's speech.

"The fact that people rose to their feet, applauding, spoke volumes," he said.

Maryland Heights Chief William Carson was among them.

Asked if he joined in the standing ovation, Carson said only that he applauded. He also is the president of the St. Louis Area Police Chiefs' Association. …

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