October 19, 2016 – Letter from Captain (Ret.) Ronald G. VanRaaphorst (Former Spokesperson/PIO FBI NA Class 221) regarding IACP’s President Terrence M. Cunningham’s disparaging comments regarding law enforcement

October 19, 2016

Terrence M. Cunningham, President
The International Association of Chiefs of Police
44 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 200
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Dear President Cunningham,
I am a former law enforcement officer who, as you stated in your recent IACP Speech are part of a “dark side of our shared history.” Apparently, I along with countless other officers from this “dark side,” “created a multigenerational-almost inherited-mistrust between many communities of color and their law enforcement agencies.” Further, you stated “many officers who do not share this common heritage often struggle to comprehend the reasons behind this historic mistrust” and “are often unable to bridge this gap and connect with some segments of their community.” To that end you felt the need to publically apologize for our “actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.”

As you stated in your apology speech, the history of American Law Enforcement is clearly “replete with examples of bravery, self sacrifice and service to the community.” I strongly agree.

I also realize there are periods and incidences of police misconduct that sadly resulted in mistrust, discrimination and even loss of life. However, I must ask, do the actions of those from the “dark side” outweigh the positive side of American Law Enforcement? Apparently you choose to believe that contemporary issues in modern day Law Enforcement are a reflection of those peace officers from another time. You also apparently choose to believe that “common solutions to better protect our communities” can only come from within Law Enforcement.

President Cunningham it is obvious from your speech that you feel the communities Law Enforcement serves bare no responsibilities past or present when it comes to their public safety. Therefore, as far as you are concerned, those communities have no “darker periods.” Based on your brief speech, you simply chose to paint the history of U.S. Law Enforcement not only with a broad brush, but with dark paint as well.

I won’t take up any more of your time President Cunningham. As the saying goes, I’m sure you will simply round file this letter. I know you will continue to voice one sided solutions to challenges in modern day policing. I also realize you will never ask the communities law enforcement serves to play a significant role in their public safety. Apparently, it would not be politically correct to call for shared responsibility in problem solving. After all, in your mind the blame for “darker periods” in this country’s history of policing lie solely at the feet of those who served in the past.

In conclusion, your speech will be remembered for one thing and one thing only, the apology. I am saddened about the disparaging remarks you directed at all of those peace officers who served in the past. I am one of those peace officers President Cunningham and I would like and apology.

Ronald G. VanRaaphorst
Captain (Ret.) Former Spokesperson/PIO
FBI NA Class 221