International Association of Chiefs of Police President Terry Cunningham is taking the first step in what he hopes begins to bridge the divide between police and a segment of the community.
"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 our society's historical mistreatment of communities of color," Cunningham said. "Events over the past several years have caused many to question the actions of our officers and tragically have undermined the trust that the public must and should have in their police department."
41 Action News sat down with Kansas City, Kansas Police Chief Terry Zeigler, an IACP member, to get his thoughts on the message. Zeigler understands why Cunningham addressed it, adding, "My hope is that somehow that does start moving us forward where any sector of the community that doesn't trust law enforcement can start trusting us."
Starting next year, all KCK officers will take part in new training.
"Talking about deescalation, verbal communication, fair and impartial policing and then we are putting two days of scenarios. Our officers are going through two days of scenario training. Every officer in the department," Zeigler shared.
Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte has actually conducted training on bias for KCKPD for years. "We're going to continue to strive to give the best service we can. We got good people. We've got good officers in our city, we really do," Zeigler said.
He's also calling on the community to learn more about their police department, especially if they have mistrust of law enforcement. "You can learn about the driving, officer-involved shootings, how we use force, all kinds of things," he said.
In his speech, Cunningham said,"There have been times when law enforcement officers because of the laws enacted by our federal, state and local governments have been the face of oppression to far too many of our fellow citizens."
Zeigler appreciated that. "Those laws were created by our politicians at the federal, state and local levels and law enforcement keeps getting beat up about it but I haven't seen too many of our elected officials get up and say anything about it." He would like to see what presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, "Have to say about the laws that were created years ago that were discriminatory in nature and the impact that it's had on police to be able to interact in a positive way with our community and it's got to get fixed."
Zeigler wants to move the conversation and community forward because he believes, "Our officers come in here with pure motives to serve and they want to do a good job. That's why they come on here. Do they make mistakes? Yes. Sometimes do they make mistakes and people lose their lives? Yes and we hate that."
Dia Wall can be reached at email@example.com.