Law enforcement leaders recognize the ethical and legal imperatives to which they and their officers must adhere to ensure that civil rights of all individuals residing, working, or visiting their jurisdiction are protected. Despite media coverage that often focuses on negative police-citizen encounters, law enforcement officers are, in fact, the most visible and largest contingent of the nation’s guardians of civil rights. Everyday, countless officers promote and protect civil rights through a variety of actions. These actions include investigation of hate crime; efforts to protect vulnerable groups; attempts to educate the community about issues of tolerance and to encourage collaboration; and programs to enhance the cultural awareness and diversity both within the law enforcement agency and the wider community.
The Civil Rights Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recognizes the outstanding efforts of law enforcement agencies and individual law enforcement personnel in protecting and promoting civil and human rights. The prestigious IACP Civil Rights Awards are presented each year at the IACP Banquet which marks conclusion of IACP’s Annual Conference. The awards are generously donated by V.H. Blackinton & Company, a manufacturer of badges and uniform insignia. The Fechheimer Brothers Company, Target Corporation, and V.H. Blackinton & Company provide financial support for to support committee activity and a reception honoring the winners.
The IACP Civil Rights Awards are presented each year at the Annual Banquet that marks the conclusion of IACP Conference and Exhibition. The 2008 Awards presented in San Diego recognize the following awardees in three categories.
Category: Single Agency Program
Agency: Michigan State Police
Program: Youth Leadership Academy
Description: The Michigan State Police (MSP) developed and conducts the Michigan Youth Leadership Academy (MYLA), an innovative community project designed to build strong relationships among urban youth and police. MYLA is a week-long residential academy focused on leadership, citizenship, respect, trust, health, community service, and life-coping skills. The goal of this program is to provide young people with an opportunity to learn, adapt to their communities, and to build and maintain positive relationships with law enforcement officers. Local law enforcement officers from the same communities as the attending students participate with them in the week-long academy. These officers follow up with and make themselves available to the graduates of this academy as they return to their communities.
Category: Multi-Agency Team Award
Agency: Georgia Bureau of Investigation
Program: Georgia Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)
Description: Led by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program also relied on partners from (a) the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police the (b) Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, (c) the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, (d) the local office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and (e) the Georgia Department of Human Resources. Since 2004, the CIT program has provided training to over 2000 Georgia law enforcement officers from 150 Georgia law enforcement agencies. The Georgia CIT program protects the rights of people with mental illness and other brain disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and developmental disabilities, in crisis by training law enforcement in techniques to de-escalate crises and, in many cases, to refer individuals for treatment instead of simply arresting and incarcerating. In a resolution signed on February 19, 2008, the Georgia Senate recognized that CIT training provides Georgia law enforcement officers with “skills to interact with persons in psychiatric crises and to de-escalate volatile situations.” The Georgia program is recognized by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) as one of the largest, most effective CIT programs in the nation.
Category: Individual Achievement Award
Awardee: Russell Porter, Director
Agency: Intelligence Fusion Center, Iowa Department of Public Safety
Description: Russell M. Porter has been a consistent and vocal presence in law enforcement stressing the importance of protecting civil rights in policy, training and ethical practice of the intelligence function. Through his many leadership roles, one of his signature issues has been inculcating the respect for civil rights and developing agency policies and practices for civil rights protections in the intelligence function.
Some of his specific activities have included drafting significant reports and documents as policy guidance for privacy and civil rights protections; providing leadership to establish civil rights protections as part of the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan and the Fusion Center Guidelines; providing advice, language and guidance to federal agencies; leading the initiative to ensure that 28 CFR Part 23 was not changed to dilute civil rights protections in the guidelines for criminal intelligence records systems; and providing training to hundreds of law enforcement administrators on civil rights, privacy and the law enforcement intelligence function.