IACP Leadership in Human and Civil Rights Award

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IACP Leadership in Human and Civil Rights Award

IACP’s Leadership in Human and Civil Rights award recognizes that protection of civil and constitutional rights is among the foremost responsibilities of police in democratic societies. 

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IACP’s Leadership in Human and Civil Rights award recognizes that protection of civil and constitutional rights is among the foremost responsibilities of police in democratic societies. As a result, the Human and Civil Rights Committee seeks to recognize programs and law enforcement efforts that exemplify the protection and promotion of civil and human rights. 

For further information, contact awards@theiacp.org.

2019 Winners


Arlington, Texas, Police Department

Arlington PD

The Arlington Police Department (APD) has enhanced its hate crime reporting protocols and hosted specialized trainings to prosecutors, officers, and civilian investigators to improve their response to hate crimes. The goal of the Arlington Hate Crimes Training was to develop a greater understanding of the need for effective and prompt hate crime enforcement; identify bias indicators in response to hate crimes; strengthen the skills necessary to engage with the victim; enhance the ability to determine what facts are necessary to substantiate the criminal charge; determine how prosecutors and police can work together effectively to obtain a conviction; and accurately report hate crime data. In 2019, an 8-hour mandatory hate crimes course was given to all APD officers focusing on the clarification of a hate crime compared to other crime, reporting changes, and new protocol regarding hate crimes. Due to the policy and protocol changes, community members have a stronger collective voice when reporting egregious incidents that are motivated by hate or biases.


Joseph Moeller
Grapevine, Texas, Police Department


In the summer of 2017, an African American family moved into an apartment in Grapevine, Texas. Almost immediately, pervasive harassment began. The family called the Grapevine Police Department after finding a series of nooses hanging a dark-skinned baby doll on their apartment balcony. Detective Joseph Moeller began investigating and after conducting several interviews, identified a potential suspect. Detective Moeller employed a number of investigative techniques and took countless steps to collect evidence for the case. Detective Moeller not only identified and linked the suspect to the crime of harassment, he also contacted the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas office and shared his investigation. The U.S. Attorney was able to then charge and convict the suspect with interference with housing on top of the harassment state charge.

2018 Winners


Calaveras County, California, Sheriff’s Office

Calaveras County

The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with the Calaveras County Health and Human Services to address police response to incidents involving a mental illness. Due to the shortage of available psychiatric treatment facilities, law enforcement is often called to respond when people with a mental illness are in crisis with two options of action: a visit to the emergency room or incarceration. Both have not provided successful treatment. The partnership between the Calaveras County Health and Human Services and the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office resulted in the formation of the Behavioral Health Triage Program, in which a mental health case manager is assigned to respond with officers to calls involving persons suspected of being in a mental health crisis. The case manager is often able to divert the individual away from hospitals and jails, following up with needed services. This effort has resulted in fewer repeat calls and less time spent by officers handling these cases.  Most importantly, the human and civil rights of the mentally ill are protected by ensuring they receive appropriate treatment rather than immediate incarceration.


Mahesh Muralidhar Bhagwat
Rachakonda Police Commissionerate, Telangana State, India
Commissioner Bhagwat was unable to attend the Annual Banquet.

Commissioner Bhagwat is recognized for his leadership in rescuing over 750 children from forced labor and providing them with the opportunity to get an education. Telangana state in India is a developing area with a population of 40 million. Many citizens work as laborers making bricks, glass, and carpets. When families migrate to find work, their children often become a victim of human trafficking and are forced to work in hazardous conditions as child laborers. These children are provided no basic human rights including education, fair pay and work hours, and basic amenities which have severe psychological impacts. Commissioner Bhagwat and the Rachakonda Police Commissionerate liberated the child laborers in “Operation Smile.” Because of Commissioner Bhagwat’s leadership in taking appropriate police action and enlisting assistance from other agencies, employers are now required to provide schools, teachers, textbooks, meals, and basic human necessities to families so that their children can be children. This has become a model of action for other areas throughout India.

2017 Winners

Sarasota, Florida, Police Department

The Sarasota Police Department (SPD) Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) Program is the product of years of development efforts, including extensive research and analysis of the law and model programs and policies across our country, and a commitment by SPD and the City of Sarasota to reduce the criminalization of homelessness.  

The mission of the SPD HOT Program fully integrates the best practice of community policing, the enforcement of the rule of law, and the decriminalization efforts of diversion and deployment of social services needed to protect and serve the at-risk, vulnerable population of homeless individuals.  The SPD HOT Program has transformed their relationship with homelessness and the homeless.  SPD’s award-winning program leverages the deployment of partnering community resources into the program architecture, enabling law enforcement officers to educate about social services, encourage referral and diversion, and, yes, enforce the criminal code – the “three E’s” of the SPD HOT Program’s integrated mission.  

From 2016 to 2017 the City of Sarasota experienced a 32% reduction in the homeless population, as measured by the annual U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Point in Time (PIT) survey.  In a June 22nd, 2017, article published by the Sarasota Herald Tribune, a senior ACLU representative is quoted as saying that the City of Sarasota “doesn’t deserve the title of ‘meanest city’ anymore” as Sarasota was previously ranked in 2006, by the National Coalition for the Homeless.   

The SPD HOT Program works, is cost-effective and readily implemented.  The program leverages and engages the deployment of existing local community resources into the HOT Program architecture through a partnership policing strategy that enables law enforcement to address criminal conduct through criminal code enforcement while protecting the constitutional rights of an at-risk population through diversion and deployment of social services.  Achieved through a program of education, encouragement, and, yes, enforcement.  

Didi Nelson 
Law Enforcement Coordination Manager
United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia

The Law Enforcement Coordination Manager for the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia, Didi Nelson has served 43 years in the criminal justice system in multiple capacities. She has consistently promoted fairness and equality in criminal justice and has participated in and led initiatives to protect human and civil rights. 

Ms. Nelson began her career as a criminal defense paralegal. In 1987, she became the first person to serve as the United States Attorney’s liaison with federal, state and local police agencies in northern Georgia. She has held the position for 30 years. 

To gain a better understanding of the issues and challenges facing law enforcement, and on her own time, she became a sworn and certified peace officer. She served with a County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Unit, working every aspect of the job. She became a certified law enforcement instructor and has provided training to over 50,000 officers during her career. 

The award nomination was based on Ms. Nelson’s four decades of work, but highlighted her accomplishments in developing a training curriculum that addresses practices that constituted civil rights violations, such as racial profiling, while balancing law enforcement procedures and enforcement.  

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001 and the backlash of prejudice against Muslims, Ms. Nelson expanded the training to include terrorism and profiling. She conducted the training throughout the country and for several national law enforcement groups. 

Ms. Nelson’s achievements demonstrate how any agency or individual can develop training that promotes enforcing the law while protecting human and civil rights.

2015 Winners

Douglasville, GA, Police Department

Greater Phoenix Area Human Trafficking Task Force of Phoenix, Arizona

Chief William Brooks of Norwood, MA, Police Department

2014 Winners

Broward Sheriff's Office, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Dearborn, MI, Police Department

Sergeant Andre Bottoms of Louisville, KY, Metro Police Department





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