New IACP President to Lead Trust-Building Initiative

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The new president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, LaGrange, Ga., Police Chief Lou Dekmar, made an historic apology for his agency’s role in a lynching of a black man. He sees the need to build trust with minority communities is the most urgent challenge facing modern police leaders, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Dekmar announced an international trust-building initiative after being sworn in last week. The initiative will be supported by a $1 million grant from basketball legend Michael Jordan. Describing past injustices as the “darkest hour” of their proud profession, Dekmar urged fellow police leaders to acknowledge past wrongs in their communities. His speech echoed comments he made to a LaGrange church in January when he expressed regret over his agency’s role in the murder of Austin Callaway, a black man taken from the city jail in 1940 by a group of white men and shot to death on a rural road.

Dekmar made the case that past injustices can’t be ignored. In minority communities, he said, they pass down from generation to generation and harm relationships with police. “The fact is, law enforcement institutions responsible for these instances are still here,” Dekmar said. “Like it or not, the officers serving today bear the burden of that history.” In his one-year term as president, Dekmar also wants to improve police policies and training to handle mentally ill citizens. De-escalating such situations help avoid encounters that can quickly turn violent or deadly. He said studies have shown roughly 25 percent of people killed by police were affected by a mental illness. He also plans to promote policies and training to help deal with the abuse and exploitation of at-risk adults as the population ages.

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