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Wellesley police chief apologizes for police “historic mistreatment of minorities”

Conflict between police and communities of color has been a subject of much attention lately. In response to those conflicts, the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Terrence M. Cunningham — who is also the chief of the Wellesley police department — recently publicly apologized on behalf of all police for the “historic mistreatment of minorities by police.”

Chief Cunningham said that it is important 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 in color.” He made the speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police in San Diego, California, in mid-October.

Chief Cunningham talked about how America needs to move forward from the past and work towards making the future a better place, and that Americans need to not have a negative connotation of the police because of incidents that have happened involving police treating minorities unfairly.

Some critics have pointed out, however, that Chief Cunningham did not mention the actual problem of racism and racial profiling that is going on between the police and African American citizens, and that he neglected to talk about specific incidents or The Black Lives Matter campaign. The Washington Post quotes Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at Georgetown University, saying in regards to Chief Cunningham’s speech, “police racism is not just a relic of history. Until police leaders acknowledge that bias is a problem right now, they will not have earned the confidence of communities of color.”

Other critics argue that Chief Cunningham took the apology too far, saying that no one was looking for an apology in the first place. “Such appeasement of the violent anti-police movement is just one more nail in the coffin of American law enforcement,” said William Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, via the New York Times. “The people who support American police officers aren’t looking for an apology. And for the people who hate the police, it won’t make any difference.”

Chief Cunningham has not yet had a public response to these criticisms, and the Wellesley police did not respond to requests for further comments.

Image: Wellesley Police Chief Terrence Cunningham. Image source: Wellesley Police Department.