Dear Law Enforcement:

For 55 years, the Kankakee County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has played a pivotal role in shaping a local agenda to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of African Americans and other people who have faced historical discrimination in Kankakee County. Our branch members work tirelessly on behalf of our local communities to address inequality issues.

It is our goal to ensure public safety as a civil and human right. I believe this can be accomplished when police officers focus on behavior rather than physical appearances, they apprehend more people who have broken the law. Everyone wants a safe community, regardless of skin color. Everyone also wants to know there are authoritative figures maintaining the public order. The use of race as a proxy for culpability leads to biased policing practices that challenge the integrity of law enforcement.

Also, because of a national trend of over-policing in American schools, many normal adolescent behaviors today are treated as criminal offenses. These practices contribute to a lack of trust between law enforcement and the communities of color it protects and serves, which undermines fair practices and serves to deter a climate conducive to producing safe communities. It is because of this lack of trust many African-American communities do not believe the police will protect them if they come forward and cooperate in criminal cases. It is because of this lack of trust that implicit biases thrive without proper training to promote fair enforcement of the law, thereby affecting the way that law enforcement interacts with the communities it is entrusted to serve. It is because of this lack of trust that African Americans continue to be the most victimized community in the nation. This lack of faith and integrity in the criminal justice system has deteriorated the social conditions that promote effective law enforcement and the partnerships that encourage public safety.

The recent incidents in Louisville, Brunswick, New York and now Minneapolis do not help law enforcement to relationship build in communities of color. The Kankakee NAACP will continue to work with key stakeholders, including law enforcement and policymakers, community, civic organizations and others to report abuses of power in the criminal justice system. We will also continue to build upon the foundation of the Ten Shared Principles that we all seek to maintain safe neighborhoods and communities.

Theodis Pace, President

Kankakee County NAACP

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