On Monday, International Association of Chiefs of Police President Terrence M. Cunningham issued an apology to people of color across the country and outlined ways police and the community could build a trusting relationship.
"There have been times when law enforcement officers because of the laws enacted by federal, state and local governments have been the face of oppression to far too many of our fellow citizens," Cunningham said at the organization’s annual conference in San Diego.
"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 the law enforcement profession 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, chief of police in Wellesley, Massachusetts, went on to add that overcoming this deep mistrust of law enforcement would mean working together and building mutual respect.
"All members of our society must realize that we have a mutual obligation to work together to ensure fairness, dignity, security and justice," adding that "Those who denounce the police must also acknowledge that today's officers are not to blame for the injustices of the past."
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund commended Cunningham for his statement, but hopes that he can turn words into action, remarking, "Some next steps: require anti-bias training; discipline officers who engage in bias policing."
National Action Network President Al Sharpton echoed the call for action, adding that he 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."