Monday, October 17, 2016

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The president of a group representing tens of thousands of law enforcement officers on Monday apologized for historic mistreatment of minorities in the United States, calling it a “dark side of our shared history” that must be acknowledged and overcome.

Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, told officials at the group’s annual conference that police have historically been a face of oppression in enforcing laws that ensure legalized discrimination and denial of basic rights.

While apologizing for past actions, Cunningham said today’s officers are not to blame for those injustices. He did not speak in detail about modern policing, but said events over the past several years have undermined public trust.

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

He said the first step was for law enforcement to “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, who is police chief of overwhelmingly white Wellesley, Massachusetts, received a standing ovation for his remarks on race relations, which lasted about four minutes and came just before he introduced U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who largely avoided the topic.

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