Cunningham noted the history of policing and its "darker periods".
"There have been times when in 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," he said. Because of past legislation (re: Jim Crow), Cunningham believes officers were forced to carry out "unpalatable tasks". Simply put, he feels that officers behind brutalized attacks on minorities in the past were only fulfilling their due diligence to society.
So these officers were just abiding by the law. Got it.Photo: AP Photo/Bill Hudson
His brief history lesson was followed by an apology.
"We must forge a path that allows us to move beyond our history and identify common solutions to better protect our communities," he said. "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 played in society's historical mistreatment of communities of color."
Cunningham goes on to say, "At the same time, those who denounce the police must also acknowledge that today's officers are not to blame for the injustices of the past." To achieve progress, Cunningham suggests "mutual respect" from both sides.
What Cunningham fails to acknowledge is present state of policing and the innocent lives lost at the hands of racist, even careless officers. He apologized for past transgressions of officers, not current. Cunningham told his fellow police chiefs that the "historic mistrust" between law enforcement and communities of color "requires moving forward together."
Last week, the Department of Justice announced a new online portal for police departments across the country to report killings and excessive force by officers as a way to build accountability.