IACP Civil Rights Award

The IACP Civil Rights Award, sponsored jointly by Fechheimer Brothers Company and V. H. Blackinton and Company, recognizes outstanding law enforcement achievements in protecting civil and human rights. The Civil Rights Committee established this award to promote recognition of the many activities performed by the law enforcement profession across the United States and around the world that serve to promote and protect civil rights. The award provides an opportunity to recognize that law enforcement professionals are among the primary guarantors of civil, human, and constitutional rights in democratic societies.

IACP Civil Rights Awards are submitted under the following categories:

•    Single-Agency Program or Project Award
•    Multi-Agency Team Award
•    Individual Achievement Award
•    International Human Rights Award

Single-Agency Program or Project Award:
Canton, Michigan, Police Department

Canton Response to Hate Crime Coalition
Canton, Michigan, Police Department collaborated with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the Michigan Alliance against Hate Crimes, the Triangle Foundation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Council on American- Islamic Relations, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, along with community leaders to form the Canton’s Response to Hate Crimes Coalition (CRHCC), which was designed to partner with traditional and nontraditional stakeholders to find common ground to respond to and prevent hate crimes.

The CRHCC has three primary objectives: a response plan, a training/education component, and a healing/mentoring component. According to FBI statistics for 2008, Michigan ranked fourth in reported hate crimes in the United States. Incidents of hate crimes have been relatively low. The formation of the CRHCC falls within the umbrella of working to protect that reputation, focusing on building a trust and confidence in the community. Through the use of environmental scan it was discovered that Michigan continues to be among the states with the highest incidents of hate crimes.

Additionally, through the environmental scan, it was discovered there was a gap in preparedness for handling a hate crime incident. Reporting efficiencies for hate crime incidents were reviewed and the following were discovered:

•    Errors in classifying incidents into the crime statistic data base
•    Victims not reporting a hate crime out of distrust, embarrassment, etc.
•    Recognition that some cultures are fearful of the police
•    Changing demographics (including high school enrollments)
•    Lack of a Hate Crime Policy
•    Limited available resources for Hate Crime Incidents
•    Organizational Training
•    Insufficient social capital with various ethnic, religious and cultural communities within Canton

This initiative engages employees with the values of the organization and affords an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and excellence in the delivery of law enforcement services.

The emergency management model for crisis management was selected as a process for responding to hate crimes. This includes the use of the SMART Messaging Notification System. Through this technology, the ability to make timely notifications to coalition members when necessary was operationalized. Also, following the emergency management model, the group planned a mock incident. This scenario based training offered an opportunity to test the group’s ability to respond, educate, and heal. There is an internal police training component for officers during roll call focusing on hate crimes recognition and proper data input into the department’s reporting system.

Canton Township also has in place a comprehensive citizen complaint process where employees, processes and systems are routinely evaluated following complaints received. After every major incident Canton requires a formal debrief aimed to increase efficiencies. Professional standards require ongoing in-service training, including cultural diversity. As a result of this initiative, the Canton Police Department drafted a policy to guide officers on how to respond to hate crimes. The policy addressed the issue of how to classify hate crimes in the FBI’s National Incident Based Reporting System and also incorporated the CRHCC into the response effort. With the help of technology and training, accurate reporting of incidents has been achieved.

Individual Achievement Award:
Special Agent Tracey Harris, FBI
Special Agent (SA) Tracey Harris has 12 years of exceptional and diverse investigative experience in the Newark and Memphis Divisions of the FBI. Over the last five years, the accomplishments of SA Harris within the Civil Rights Program have been remarkable. She has led numerous successful investigations of law enforcement officers who committed various Civil Rights violations under the color of law. She also has led numerous successful investigations of human traffickers who committed unspeakable offenses while preying upon immigrants, minors, and mentally challenged victims. Because of her sustained, outstanding performance; the high value placed on her efforts and accomplishments by her superiors, peers, and the community; and her continued enthusiasm for, and promotion of, the core values and the operational mission of the FBI’s Civil Rights Program, she was recognized for the Individual Achievement Award.

Many of the closed investigations that have been worked by SA Harris are used as case examples to new police recruits in local law enforcement academies. Her work is used to demonstrate the stark consequences that law enforcement officers face when they choose to violate the civil rights of citizens. Finally, SA Harris benefits law enforcement by making herself available to both officers and prosecutors whenever possible to provide training regarding civil rights investigations.

Single Agency Honorable Mention:
Nassau County, New York, Police Department

Hate–Crossing the Line Video
In the late summer and early fall of 2009, 40 teens from across Nassau County New York volunteered to participate in a plain, straight, uninhibited video about hate crime.
Teens talking to teens about what a hate crime is and the real-world ramifications of committing a hate crime. This video visually demonstrates that turning hateful thoughts about a group into action is crossing the line. Since being released at the end of 2009 the video has been requested by schools and law enforcement agencies across the country and has been sent as far away as Australia to help address this difficult crime that occurs in our communities. This unique outreach to a county of 1.3 million people clearly demonstrates the Nassau County Police Department’s commitment to a proactive, educational effort to address hate crimes.

Awards were not presented in the Multi-Agency Team or International Human Rights Award categories in 2010.

2011 applications due: March 25, 2011

For more information about these programs or to apply for the IACP Civil Rights Award, please visit the awards section of the IACP website,
or contact
Sarah Godshall at the IACP,
515 North Washington Street,
Alexandria, VA 22314-2357,
by phone at 1-800-THE-IACP, IACP, extension 808, or
e-mail at godshall@theiacp.org.