In light of recent tensions between the police and communities, the International Association of Chiefs of Police President Terrence M. Cunningham apologized on Monday for the actions of some officers against minorities.
Cunningham issued the apology recognizing "the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society's historical mistreatment of communities of color."
He also acknowledged police officers' bravery, self-sacrifice, and their service to the community, but admitted "the history of policing has had darker periods."
"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," Cunningham said.
"In the past, the laws adopted by our society have required police officers to perform many unpalatable tasks, such as ensuring legalized discrimination or even denying the basic rights of citizenship to many of our fellow Americans," Cunningham added.
He says that the apology is the first step to forging a path that will allow both sides to move beyond their history and bring about a common solution to better protect communities.
"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 society's historical mistreatment of communities of color," Cunningham said.
The chiefs remarks were met with praise but also skepticism. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund tweeted: "Some next steps: require anti-bias training; discipline officers who engage in bias policing."
Good 1st step. Some next steps: require anti-bias training; discipline officers who engage in bias policing https://t.co/fINWw9iL61
— Legal Defense Fund (@NAACP_LDF) October 17, 2016
National Action Network President Al Sharpton welcomed the apology but says he wants Cunningham's words backed by action.
"This dark side of our shared history has created a generational, almost inherited mistrust" between many communities of color and the police officers," he said.
"Many officers who do not share this common heritage often struggle to comprehend the reasons behind this historic mistrust," Cunningham said. "As a result, they're often unable to bridge this gap and connect with some segments of their communities.