Police Race Writers and Writing

Police Group Prez Apologizes for “Past Injustices”…a Puzzling Inglewood Shooting…and Luiz J. Rodriguez


On Monday, Terrence Cunningham, the president of International Association of Chiefs of Police formally apologized to communities of color for law enforcement’s part in “society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.”

Cunningham, who is the chief of police in Wellesley, Mass., gave his speech at an IACP convention in San Diego.

The IACP president acknowledged that in the past, police officers served as the “face of oppression,” enforcing discriminatory laws that have cultivated a “multigenerational—almost inherited—mistrust between many communities of color and their law enforcement agencies.”

Jeffery Robinson, deputy legal director of the ACLU, Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and others have praised Cunningham’s apology, calling the high-ranking law enforcement official’s speech an important step toward healing police-community relations.

Critics of the apology point out that Cunningham’s apology treats of the issue of racism in policing as a problem of the past—the aftereffects of which continue to act as a barrier to peace between citizens and cops. Cunningham never addresses the issue of continued racial bias in policing occurring today. “There are bigoted cops today as there were when it was legal to be a bigoted cop,” Delores Jones-Brown, a professor at John Jay College said to the LA Times’ Jaweed Kaleem.

You can watch the speech in its entirety above.

The Washington Post’s Tom Jackman broke the story. Here’s a clip:

Terrence M. Cunningham, the chief of police in Wellesley, Mass., delivered his remarks at the convention in San Diego of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, whose membership includes 23,000 police officials in the United States. The statement was issued on behalf of the IACP, and comes as police executives continue to grapple with tense relationships between officers and minority groups in the wake of high-profile civilian deaths in New York, South Carolina, Minnesota and elsewhere, the sometimes violent citizen protests which have ensued as well as the ambush killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Police chiefs have long recognized the need to maintain good relations with their communities, of all races, and not allow an us-versus-them mentality to take root, either in their rank-and-file officer corps or in the neighborhoods where their citizens live. Cunningham’s comments are an acknowledgement of police departments’ past role in exacerbating tensions and a way to move forward and improve community relations nationwide. Two top civil rights groups on Monday commended Cunningham for taking an important first step in acknowledging the problem.

“Events over the past several years,” Cunningham said, “have caused many to question the actions of our officers and has tragically undermined the trust that the public must and should have in their police departments…The history of the law enforcement profession is replete with examples of bravery, self-sacrifice, and service to the community. At its core, policing is a noble profession.”

But Cunningham added, “At the same time, it is also clear that the history of policing has also had darker periods.” He cited laws enacted by state and federal governments which “have required police officers to perform many unpalatable tasks…While this is no longer the case, this dark side of our shared history has created a multigenerational — almost inherited — mistrust between many communities of color and their law enforcement agencies.”


Back in February, five Inglewood police officers fatally shot Kisha Michael, 31, and Marquintan Sandlin, 32, after officers found them unconscious in a car idling in the middle of the street. Michael, a mother of three, was shot in the head, neck, and back 13 times. Seven more bullets proved fatal for Sandlin, a father of four.

In a police radio clip, one of the responding officers said that Michael had a gun in her lap. Both Michael and Sandlin’s families said the two were loving parents. Their families said they didn’t know why Michael and Sandlin were found with a gun.

A warrant had been issued for Michael’s arrest earlier in February after she violated the terms of her probation by failing to appear in court. (Michael was on probation because of a misdemeanor theft.)

Following the shooting, Inglewood police remained particularly quiet, giving hardly any information about the circumstances of the shooting. The department hasn’t even said whether either of the deceased had reached for the gun before the responding officers let loose a hail of bullets.

Michael and Sandlin’s loved ones find it hard to believe that the cops were unable to de-escalate a situation involving two people who were unconscious when law enforcement arrived.

Michael’s twin, Trisha, tried for several months to get answers from the civilian body tasked with overseeing the Inglewood Police Department, but every month, the commission’s meetings were canceled.

When the Inglewood Citizen Police Oversight Commission was established back in 2002, it had teeth. The commission had the power to conduct hearings on instances of police misconduct. The group had subpoena power and a say in officer discipline. But before the first meeting, the police union intervened, and the commission was stripped of its authority.

The commission rarely meets, and mainly acts as a porter for complaints against police. Meanwhile the Inglewood PD continues to face scrutiny over questionable uses-of-force.

The LA Times’ Angel Jennings has the story. Here’s a clip:

Jan Williams, a local resident who follows city government, said she often goes to the commission meetings only to find they have been canceled due to a lack of a quorum. On May 11 — the first meeting in seven months — she criticized the commissioners for not convening more often.

This is “suppose to be our voice. I encourage you guys to meet more regularly,” she said.

The commission’s fading role in police oversight is all the more troubling to critics because the department continues to come under scrutiny.

For example, the commission had no role in reviewing the shooting of motorist Juan Jose Palma, whom the city recently paid $4.6 million to settle an excessive force lawsuit. Palma, now 46, was shot in the head by an officer during a 2012 traffic stop. The officer said he shot Palma because he refused commands to show his hands and appeared to be reaching behind his car seat for a weapon. No firearm was found in Palma’s SUV, but a baseball bat was found in the vehicle. Palma survived but suffered lasting brain damage.


Michael Falkow, the assistant city manager who has served as the advisor for the panel since 2007, said the city’s elected leaders and commissioners have not had “a desire to change anything” with regard to how the police oversight panel functions.

At the May meeting, Falkow described the group’s limited purview.

The commission does not investigate allegations of police misconduct, he said. It can only make recommendations for discipline, but the final call belongs to the chief of police.

“To be very clear, the commission has no authority, the commission has no mechanism, the commission has no ability to discuss or oversee or even hear any cases of [or] related to officer involved shootings,” he told the two people in the audience.

By comparison, the five-member Los Angeles Police Commission overseeing the operation of the 10,000-officer force has broad authority and meets weekly. The panel sets LAPD policies and has an inspector general who investigates and audits the department on its behalf. In one of its most important roles, the board decides whether police shootings and other serious uses of force were appropriate.

Keep reading.



In an interview with Alex Cohen, of KPCC’s Take Two, Luis J. Rodriguez discusses his work and legacy as he finishes the last weeks of his two years as LA’s second poet laureate (ever).

Once a gang-involved, drug-addicted teen, Rodriguez is now a celebrated poet, author, activist, and mentor to young men and women seeking healthy alternatives to gang life.

When Rodriguez was appointed two years ago, he was told to do a minimum of 6 events. Last year alone, Rodriguez, who is paid a small monthly stipend, held 110 workshops, readings, and other events.

Rodriguez also completed an anthology featuring 160 LA poets called “The Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles,” and a chapbook of poetry called “Borrowed Bones.”


  • Truly spoken by Police Chief’s Association President. For those who don’t agree, then thats THEIR problem. It’s a hard pill to swallow for many but,oh well.

  • These “Associations” and “Feternal orders of” seem to be scams to solicit donations from old folks, and a way for narcissists like Cunnigham to celebrate themselves. Remember Baca and a Sexton and whatever phony “Sheriff of the year” thing they were a part of?

  • If a white LAPD cop who works Rampart Division arrests 75% Latinos and only 10% whites, obviously he’s a racist. The stats from his arrests prove it. The cops are oppressors. There’s no doubt about it.
    Same old asinine, juvenile, intellectually dishonest argument presented by pseudo-intellectuals who can’t accept the harsh realities of the real world.
    The DOJ stats prove that blacks are killed by police at a disproportionately LOWER rate than other demographics when compared with the percentage of violent crime committed by blacks. No matter. BLM is alive and well. And anybody who doesn’t buy in to their movement is obviously a racist.
    And don’t you dare bring up the FACT that the most dangerous person to a young black male in this country is another young black male. That’s such bad racial manners. Just keep your mouth shut.
    The cops are the problem. Just accept it and move on. You’ll feel really good about yourself that way.

  • Cunningham was born and raised in Wellesley, Mass., pop. 28,000. His entire police career of 29 years has been with that agency, with 16 years as Chief. He heads an agency with 45 sworn officers. They make 200 obs arrests a year, but write 8,000 traffic citations. (One can see where most of his operating budget comes from.) Most patrol sergeants supervise and approve greater numbers of personnel and arrests. But he’s heralded as a leader simply because of his title. What you wanna bet he never served in any branch of the armed forces either.

    The racial makeup of Wellesley is 84.6% white and 2.2% black. According to Boston Magazine’s yearly “Best Places To Live”, Wellesley ranks first in the United States in percentage of adults who hold at least one college degree. Over 66% of the households have at least one individual holding an advanced degree beyond a bachelor’s degree. In 2009, Wellesley ranked #2 in “America’s Most Educated Small Towns” according to Forbes.com.

    A suburb of Boston, and the home of Wellesley College, a bastion of progressive female education.

    I doubt Cunningham as much real field/patrol experience. Perhaps its because his entire career has been similar to a security guard that he embraces the “guardian” method of enforcement and eschews a warrior ethos. He can’t relate. He’s a Chief of Police in a liberal college town and he must maintain those liberal thoughts and comments if he wants to remain as the at-will Chief. He’s a do nothing figurehead and spends most of his time participating in worthless endeavors like the IACP. As someone pointed out, narcissists flock to positions of title. He doesn’t speak for me with his self serving and pandering comments.

    I found the factual information on their website and WikiPedia. And if it’s on the Internet, we know it must be true.

  • Cunninghams view of America is myopic at best. The rest of us live in the real world with real problems associated with crime. How about spending a year in Chicagos south side for some perspective.

  • Strolling along the bell curve, dropped by and noticed strong comments posted here using data, logic, argument, and drawing out possible motives. It’s smart not to dismiss self-interest as a principal driver of Mr. Cunningham’s comments. This is a group of capable individuals with voracious political appetites. And it’s not too cynical to point out that it may be the usual public audition before a new federal government is elected, as Spade mentions. We’ll see more of it from our LA-based people after the election. Yet there is also something else going on at a deeper level, a queer strain of accommodationist anti-realism and soft propaganda (for example, carefully read Washington Post series targeting policing and Hollywood last couple of days, apparently designed to knock down LE agency-inspired ideals – Dragnet, Adam-12 – or ‘forms’ as Plato called them, as if to signal ‘LE in America has always been corrupt, so let’s start with that proposition and make our respective confessions and reparations’) running through police hierarchy that masquerades as enlightened thinking. It has an ideological stink to it (akin to the so-called ‘false consciousness’ Marxists often claim) that politicizes civil service more intensely than in the past. I can’t quite get a grip on its source or origin, but its effect is moving through and across many LE agencies and tends to deny or disavow the value of experience, the relatively noble history of policing in the US, the logic of rationality (dismissed as logocentrism by the SJWs), data and social science (e.g., Heather McDonald’s recent data-driven work, The War on Cops), and almost any reasonable normative, prescriptive claims for/from objective ethics and morality (e.g., Baltimore’s mayor was not merely foolish, but morally wrong in giving “those who wished to destroy space to do that as well”). The trade-off of the ideal of merit-based promotion, utterly indifferent to color, race, sex, or whether someone likes to hump or be humped by sheep, for the politically correct pungency of the day, is merely a symptom of social thought gone awry. A lot of good people have been harmed by the new line of anti-realist thought, and many more to come. Yeah, Cunningham is likely operating from self-interest and perhaps seizing a professional opportunity to be a policy fixer. His comments are not without logical flaws. But he is also a symptom of something deeper going on in our culture, beyond the usual politics of the moment. The sinewy reed, E Pluribus Unum, might be fraying even more in the coming years.

  • Brizz – Did you take your meds?… prior to your spillage of opinions mixed with the lastest quotations of several authors.

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