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. Every day, 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, a manufacturer of uniforms and the V.H. Blackinton & Company provide financial support for the Civil Rights Awards and associated events.
The 2009 IACP Civil Rights Awards presented in Denver recognized the following exemplary law enforcement agencies and programs
Category: Single Agency Program
Agency: City of Westbrook (ME) Police Department
Program: Foreign Exchange and Civil Rights Program/ Human Relations Committee
Description: The Westbrook Police Department was recognized for its entire range of civil rights efforts. The Foreign Exchange and Civil Rights Program is a four part program that improves the readiness of the department to respond to the law enforcement needs of its increasingly diverse population. The cornerstone of the program is the foreign exchange component, whereby an officer lives and works in a foreign law enforcement setting for two weeks and then the Department invites their foreign law enforcement host to return to Westbrook for a similar period of time. Additionally, the program trains its sworn personnel on cultural diversity, develops cultural liaison volunteers from the community, and provides multilingual informational brochures and maps to the community. The Department’s Human Relations Committee mission is to promote civil rights, personal dignity and positive relationships between all residents of and visitors to the City of Westbrook.
Category: Multi-Agency Team Award
Agencies: Cities of Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Richfield, and Hopkins (MN) Police Departments
Program: Joint Community Police Partnership (JCPP)
Description: The goal of the JCPP is to create cooperative relationships between the law enforcement departments and their diverse communities. The major components of the program includes the recruitment and hiring of police cadets of diverse backgrounds, advance training of officers including daily roll calls on key diversity topics and language classes, formation of a Multicultural Advisory Committee, embedded community liaisons, and training for community leaders. Over 200 police officers and 6,000 community members in the four cities have participated in various JCPP trainings. Over 80% of individuals, as self reported through pre and post-event questionnaires, experienced a better understanding of police and less fear of police as a result of their involvement in JCPP trainings and events.
Category: Individual Achievement Award
Awardee: James Cavanaugh, Special Agent in Charge,
Agency: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Nashville Field Office
Description: Mr. Cavanaugh was recognized for his commitment, leadership, and contribution to the law enforcement profession in the area of civil rights, specifically in the investigations of hate crimes. Throughout his career, Mr. Cavanaugh has dedicated his work and leadership to investigating some of the most violent and heinous hate crimes in the south. In the 1990’s, Mr. Cavanaugh investigated more than 50 church fires in Alabama and Mississippi, which precipitated the Church Arson Act. At the command level and throughout his career Mr. Cavanaugh has been a champion of law enforcement’s key role in civil rights. Mr. Cavanaugh has worked extensively with the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama and with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Category: International Human Rights Award Awardee: Los Angeles Metropolitan Human Trafficking Task Force Investigation: Vasquez-Valenzuela Sex Trafficking Organization Investigation Description: The Los Angeles Metropolitan Human Trafficking Task Force (LAMHTTF) was recognized for its exemplary performance in the investigation and highly successful prosecution of the Vasquez-Valenzuela family. The family conspired to commit egregious acts of forced prostitution by victimizing young women and minors who were smuggled into the country from Guatemala. The case was one of the largest and most complex sex trafficking cases of its kind that was successfully tried to verdict in the United States. Law enforcement gained directly from the Vasquez-Valenzuela case through the increased awareness in the community and a means to reach out and encourage community members (who are often the only sources for reporting these otherwise undetected and unreported crimes) to come forward with the assurance that law enforcement would, in fact, act upon their tips.