Leader of Police Group Offers Unprecedented Apology
He wants to break 'historic cycle of mistrust'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2016 12:17 AM CDT
Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said at the group's annual conference that police have historically been a face of oppression, enforcing laws that ensured legalized discrimination and denial of basic rights.   (AP Photo/Elliot Spagat)

(Newser) – It is time to break the "historic cycle of mistrust" between police and minority groups in America, the leader of America's biggest association of police chiefs said at the group's annual meeting in San Diego Monday, offering an unprecedented apology. There is much to be proud of in the history of law enforcement, but policing has also "had darker periods," International Association of Chiefs of Police President Terrence Cunningham said, per CNN. "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," said Cunningham, chief of police in Wellesley, Mass.

To move forward, Cunningham said, it will require "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." The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that civil rights leaders have welcomed the apology, but they'd like Cunningham to clarify whether he's talking about the 19th century, the 20th century, or last week. "What specific action of the past is he referring to?" wonders Andre Branch, head of the San Diego chapter of the NAACP. "Excessive force? Illegal stops by law enforcement? Fatalities of African-Americans in police encounters?"