Monday, February 22, 2016

RACE MATTERS - The Question Yet to be Asked

"How one chief tried to reverse police wrongs of the civil rights era" by Kenya Downs, PBS NewsHour 2/18/2016


Growing up, retired Montgomery County police chief Kevin Murphy wondered why no one in his home state of Alabama formally acknowledged the injustices and violence committed against Rep. John Lewis by police during his time as a student activist.  During the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, he did just that.  Murphy publicly apologized to Lewis, and personally handed him his badge.

Witnessing the negative interactions of police with minority communities as a youth has guided Murphy’s approach to law enforcement.  After becoming chief, one of the first things he did was implement a program for his officers to learn racial bias in policing, using lessons on important parts of Montgomery’s civil rights history.  The class has since be added to regular police training, including a tour of the Rosa Parks Museum and scenarios that mimic real-life scenarios of improper policing.  His goal was to caution new officers on how to use the power of their uniforms ethically.  He has a message for law enforcement agencies across the country on how to be more effective at serving their communities.

“Law enforcement needs to start hold themselves accountable,” he said.  “There’s no such thing as street justice.  You have to abide by the law when you’re wearing a uniform and set the example.  When you don’t do that you’ve lost all credibility with the public you serve.”

Special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault (NewsHour) traveled to Montgomery to report.

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