Top police chief apologizes for ‘historical mistreatment’ of minorities nationwide

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Photo credit by Wellesley Police Department

By Felicia Gans, bostonglobe.com

The president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Monday apologized “for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.”

Speaking at a national conference in San Diego, Terrence M. Cunningham, who is also the police chief in Wellesley, told attendees they must work to overcome “historic mistrust” of the police by working together to “ensure fairness, dignity, security, and justice,” according to a published version of his remarks on the association’s website.

Cunningham urged officers to “build a shared understanding” with the people they protect.

Referring to a “darker period” in the history of policing, Cunningham said laws have sometimes forced officers to be the “face of oppression.”

“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 said.

“Many officers who do not share this common heritage often struggle to comprehend the reasons behind this historic mistrust,” he continued. “As a result, they are often unable to bridge this gap and connect with some segments of their communities.”

Officers who can identify solutions for their communities will be able to keep the future of policing from mirroring the past, 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 said.

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