The IACP Civil Rights Award, sponsored V. H. Blackinton & Company, recognizes outstanding law enforcement achievements in protecting civil and human rights. The Civil Rights Committee established this award to promote recognition of the law enforcement activities performed by the profession across the United States and around the world that serve to promote and protect civil rights. Every professional police and public safety organization is faced with the challenge of enforcing the law while at the same time respecting civil and constitutional rights. The Committee details the work of the 2011 Civil Rights Award winners in an effort to share best practices and provide a framework for other agencies to consider for implementation all or a portion of these award winning programs, activities and achievements.
Category: Single Agency Program
Agency: Greenfield, California, Police Department, Chief Joseph Grebmeier
Program: Community Outreach Program
Description: This program addresses the issue of Civil Rights for immigrant populations. The City of Greenfield, California, is a small rural community, located in the Salinas Valley, of central California. There is a significant undocumented immigrant population in the community. The police department has an authorized strength of 17 sworn officers. The immigrants were being victimized at a much higher rate than the rest of the community. The local street gangs realized that local farm workers were carrying large amounts of cash, and were not reporting crimes to the local police. This made the immigrants of this community an easy target for crime. Because of the lack of understanding of the role of the police department in their community, the immigrant victims were more afraid of the police than the gangs. Replication of this program for other police agencies would start with the SARA model (Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment.) First ask questions, listen to comments, and then work to establish a level of trust with the community. This trust would allow the department to find collaborative solutions. Crime Statistics, with an emphasis on citizens who were feeling victimized, were reviewed. Communication was enhanced by reaching out to identify the community leaders within the indigenous population. It is important to start community meetings and be mindful that the meetings may be small at first. Meetings can be held over lunch or dinner. These small meetings grew to monthly community meetings held at the local high school. As this effort grew, it was joined by both local government agencies and community based organizations. The speakers at the meetings included a local judge, medical personnel, medical clinics, drug and alcohol abuse services organizations, other local law enforcement agencies, school personnel, the Mexican Consulate, Spanish media, the farm workers union, the Health Department, the local bank, and others. The monthly meetings led to health fairs, food and clothing drives, cultural festivals, and more. As the movement grew, local elected officials began to meet with the coalition of community groups and develop working relationships on all issues. The culture within the police department changed, resulting in a much higher cultural literacy among the officers.
An all civilian job interview board and promotion board were established to achieve a greater connection between the community and the department. The officers were able to relate Community Oriented Policing and Problem Oriented Policing methodologies to the issues related to differences in the cultures. Conversely, the community was able to learn more about their police department and other cultural norms. The greatest by-product was a solid sense of trust between both the police department and the community. The program resulted in more crimes being reported, more victims testifying in court, a decrease in quality of life complaints, a decrease in DUIs, a decrease in domestic violence and a decrease in traffic accidents (non-alcohol related).
Category: Multiagency Team Award
Agencies: Burlington Vermont, Police Department; South Burlington, Vermont Police Department; City of Winooski, Vermont; Public Safety Department and University of Vermont Police Department
Program: The “Uncommon Alliance” Race Data Collection
Description: Members of Chittenden County’s diverse community and
leaders from local law enforcement agencies began an effort to partner together to mitigate the impact and perception of racial profiling and bias in policing. Four law enforcement agencies became community partners – the Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski, and University of Vermont Police Departments. Also included in the first meetings were the Director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission and the county’s elected prosecutor, the Chittenden County State’s Attorney.
Working together in monthly meetings, the group created a forum for dialogue between the community and law enforcement. This working relationship fostered trust, developed law enforcement and community training strategies, created mechanisms to identify diverse members of the community to sit on police hiring and promotion panels, and created and implemented Vermont’s first race data collection initiative. The Vermont Race Data Collection Initiative began by identifying the personal narratives of people who reported being impacted by racial profiling. This group provided a preliminary outline of the data they believed would inform ongoing conversations on the issue.
Forums to discuss racial profiling with national experts, including Dr. Jack McDevitt from Northeastern University’s Center for Race Data Collection, and Dr. Patrick Mason from Florida State University, were held. A data collection tool and methodology was completed with these experts and community input was captured from town forums. The concept was introduced to the public and additional feedback was obtained. A number of public access television shows were shown to inform the community and obtain feedback via viewer call-ins and solicitation for attendance at meetings. Once complete, the data collection tool was deployed to four police departments simultaneously.
The first year of data collection involved over 13,000 traffic stops. The report back to the community on the first year of data collection was done through a community forum and public access television broadcast of the results. Thereafter, this very diverse group began next steps, building on the community trust that had been developed and the better understanding of police traffic stops.
Category: Individual Achievement Award:
Individual and Agency: Chief Edward Cronin (Retired) Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Police Department
Program: Law Enforcement through Community Engagement and Systems thinking
Description: Edward F. Cronin served as the police chief for the Fitchburg, Massachusetts Police Department. During that time, he was able to lower the crime rate and set in motion a systems thinking approach to community policing that grew into a solid approach worthy of emulation for other agencies that are anxious to reach out to minority communities and make a real difference in the quality of life for the community.
Fitchburg is an old New England industrial city of 40,000 people. When Cronin arrived as Chief in 2002, the city was economically depressed, had experienced a rise in the immigrant populations, the largest increase in the Latino population, and was experiencing housing market decreases, poverty and a serious drug and violent crime problem. His approach was to implement a broad based systems thinking approach to address the problems presented. He formed a regional police task force that increased search warrants, and seizures of illegal drugs and the confiscation of drug dealers’ assets. Enforcement increased. He reached out to a local Latino coalition and in particular a strong Latino coalition leader, Soyra Pinto. The two shared a mutual understanding of systems thinking and worked together to implement a strategic plan to address the issues presented. Chief Cronin was able to get financial support from a local newspaper to support a community regional task force of 50 members, chaired by two local university presidents. The task force members included police, probation, parole and prison officials, social workers, school superintendents, teacher, private citizens and representatives of all the minority groups in the region. This group hired consultants who conducted a system thinking workshop. This fostered a collective responsibility of the larger community to solve local affairs as a team. The task force developed intervention strategies for at-risk youth – a summer jobs program was implemented. Public institutions and private companies came together to question past practices that were not working. The police department partnered with the Latino Coalition and applied and received funding. The group examined expulsion practices in the local schools, helped introduce a restorative justice model for students to better manage negative behavior. The task force hosted a community dialogue on race relations that resulted in a multi – racial committee. These groups and activities fostered a greater level of participation by the minority community.
Category: International Human Rights Award:
Agency: Kahramanmaras Police Department, Turkish National Police
Program: The Safe Youth, Safe Future Project
Description: The city of Kahramanmaras consists of 9 administrative provinces, each is sociologically cosmopolitan and very diverse. The target population of the project was 12th grade high school students and their families. There were two stages to the program. In the first stage, 40 successful students, whose families have poor economic conditions, from each province were chosen. The students were hosted by the Police Department and visited the city center for a tour and several meetings with senior officials. The program included a movie preview, a visit to the local university, a visit to the police department, and the martyrdom, a visit to cultural and historical sites in city, a breakfast and lunch at the Police Guest House, and a dinner at local university. Students were also welcomed by the Police Chief and the city’s Governor. During their visit, students were informed about their rights; that every person in civil society equally has rights no matter what their sex, race or religion is. At the end of the program, there was a noticeable increase of the students’ awareness of safeguarding their civil rights and interests. Students, who belong to different ethnical and cultural groups, spent a whole day altogether, shared educational interestes and dialogues without considering differences. They were able to form new friendships and reflect on an deeper understanding of tolerance and peace.
In the second stage, the officers visited the students’ homes to meet their families. During these visits, families were also informed about the fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the Turkish Constitution. As part of the discussion, it was explained to the parents and their children that they were the future of the country and should know they have civil rights, and these rights entitle them to equal treatment and to be free from unfair treatment or any kind; to be free of discrimination in education, employment, and to have freedom of thought.
Single Agency Honorable Mention
Agency: Chaska Police Department
Program Public Safety Initiative – Bullying a Public Safety Response
Description: The Chaska Police Department, with community partners, developed and implemented a comprehensive anti-bullying campaign with the key components of civic commitment, community education, and comprehensive victim resources.
Bullying behavior is pervasive and often leads to emotional and physical harm. Victims of bullying can be anyone and individuals and groups perceived to be different are often the target of these harmful actions. Additionally, with the increased use of on-line communication, cyber-bullying has fast become a tool for bullies to victimize others in a venue that is very difficult to escape. In essence, bullying behavior is a direct attack on people’s civil rights and civil liberties.
The Chaska Police Department identified the broad spectrum of bullying as a public safety concern and, with numerous community partners, developed a plan for civic commitment, education, prevention and victim healing. While there are many components to this plan, a key community event best describes the commitment to preventing bullying. The Chaska Police Department, the Public Safety Focus Group and key community partners hosted a Town Hall Meeting, “Examining Bullying in the Community, Building Community Through Language and Civility.” The event featured key-note speakers, educational break-out sessions about specific topics, and private resources for victims. The event was well attended, received excellent reviews and there was an overwhelming desire for follow-up activities which are on-going.
The police department developed a comprehensive model to address the problem that can be replicated anywhere. The model includes a community commitment of zero tolerance toward bullying, education about bullying behaviors and prevention, and necessary resources for victims experiencing bullying. The model can be modified to fit the needs of any community.
Category: Multiagency Honorable Mention
Agency: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office
Program: Operation Stormfront
Description: The largest ever take-down of white supremacist prison and street gang criminal enterprises in Orange County California history. Operation “Stormfront” was conducted in collaboration by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), United States Secret Service (USSS), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), United States Attorney’s Office (USAO), and Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA).
Operation “Stormfront” developed as a result of investigations by Federal and State agencies into the criminal activity of white supremacist criminal street and prison gangs operating in and around the Orange County area.