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, a manufacturer of uniforms and the V.H. Blackinton & Company provide financial support for the Civil Rights Awards and associated events.
The 2007 IACP Civil Rights Awards presented in New Orleans recognized the following exemplary law enforcement agencies and programs
Agency: Ottawa Police Service (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
Program: Outreach Recruitment Program
Description: Through its Outreach Recruitment Program, the Ottawa Police Service has developed a deliberate, coordinated, and ground-breaking approach to becoming a diverse and non-discriminatory police service. As part of its efforts to diversify its sworn personnel, the Ottawa Police Service has raised awareness across the community and has reached out specifically to those segments that have not traditionally sought careers in policing. This strategy relied on working closely will all segments of the community and engaging specialized Outreach Recruitment Champions, tapping into recognized leaders from various communities. The strategy also involved conscious efforts directed inward to make the Ottawa Police Service a more respectful and welcoming workplace for employees of different ages, faiths, races, lifestyles, needs, disabilities, genders, beliefs and sexual orientations.
Agency: Brookline Police Department (Brookline, MA, USA)
Program: Racial Profiling Prevention Strategies
Description: Over the last ten years, the Brookline Police Department has developed, implemented, and institutionalized a multifaceted racial profiling prevention strategy. This comprehensive approach addressed the areas of policy review and development; hiring and recruitment, training, addressing citizen complaints, data collection, and community outreach. This effort incorporated proactive data collection, the use of an early intervention system to track officer performance, and improvement in hiring and recruitment processes. Through these coordinated efforts, today’s Brookline Police Department has taken a proactive rather than reactive approach to racial profiling. In addition, it is now more reflective if the community is serves and better prepared to respond to the broad ranging cultural and language diversity that exists in that community.
Multi-Agency: Hate Crime Prevention and Investigation of the “Avenues Gang” Case
Program: Investigation and Prosecution Team in U.S. vs. Saldana
Description: This award is for an exemplary multi-agency cooperative effort that resulted in the successful investigation and prosecution of a hate crime and murder investigation. This case, known as the Avenue Gang Case, was investigated by the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. The case involved the racially-motivated murder of two African-Americans and systematic intimidation and harassment of African-Americans in the Highland Park Neighborhood of Los Angeles. This precedent setting case is unique not only because of the concerted efforts of local and federal law enforcement, but also because it represents the first time that federal hate crime statutes have been used to prosecute racially-motivated crime committed by street gang members.