Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Middlebury Police Chief Thomas Hanley Honored

Congratulations, Chief Tom Hanley!

Today, September 14, 2010, Middlebury Police Chief Thomas Hanley will be installed as the new President of the Chiefs of Police at a ceremony at the Doubletree Hotel in Burlington.

The following letter will be read as part of Chief Hanley's inauguration ceremony.

"In our opinion, Chief Hanley has consistently exhibited considerable

leadership in efforts to ensure that policing services are delivered

without bias or prejudice stemming from a person’s race, color, national

origin or citizenship status. Tom has spoken out in the interest of

public safety for all of Vermont’s residents by affirmatively stating

that he and his department are not interested in a person’s status if

that person is a victim of, or witness, to a crime. Chief Hanley

clearly realizes that persons would be reluctant to report criminal

activity if it may subject them to removal proceedings.

Chief Hanley addressed these issues during a statewide conference on

immigration and undocumented farm workers which was held on April 24,

2010 in Middlebury, Vermont. During a panel discussion, Tom stated that

he trains his officers to be “criminal profilers;” that is, officers

are to be alert to objective evidence and indicia of criminal activity

rather than focus their attention on individuals because of their skin

color, race, national origin, manner of dress, native language,

immigration status and other irrelevant criteria. The Chief reported

that if law enforcement officers pay particular attention to types of

persons that they may stereotypically believe are more inclined to

criminal activity, they will not see the evidence of criminality among

the dominant (white) population.

The underreporting of crime is a problem nationwide, and Vermont is no

exception. This problem exists for many complex reasons, not the least

of which is fear of the police. This is especially common among

immigrant and refugee groups, who may have experienced police corruption

and brutality in their countries of origin.

Unfortunately, it does not take long for the underreporting of

victimization among a particular group to become common knowledge. In

the case of migrant farmworkers, their well-known reluctance to report

has made them prey to incidents of assault, theft and robbery, as well

as domestic and sexual violence, hate crimes, and financial

exploitation. Chief Hanley has often spoken of the issue of protecting

all Vermonters, and of encouraging people to report crime. But, unlike

many leaders, he has stood behind his words. He created Vermont's first

bias-free policing policy in Middlebury, which has been called a

"sanctuary city." That policy prohibits police officers from asking for

a person's immigration status unless that person is a suspect in the

commission of a crime.

Chief Hanley probably does not think of himself as a victim advocate.

However, his work to protect some of the most vulnerable and underserved

residents of Vermont -- immigrants and refugees -- through his

courageous stand against racial profiling has greatly increased the

safety of those people. He is a hero to those of us who work on behalf

of crime victims for his unwavering commitment to assuring the safety of

all of Vermont's residents -- not just the ones who look and sound like


We applaud the selection of Chief Tom Hanley as the as incoming

President of the New England Chiefs of Police Association. Vermont,

like the rest of New England, has rapidly changing demographics. Chief

Hanley is a leader among the law enforcement community to ensure that

all who reside in our various jurisdictions have the right to expect and

receive equal treatment from police officers.

Barbara Whitchurch

Director, New Neighbors Victim Outreach Project

Public Education Coordinator, Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services

Robert Appel

Executive Director

Vermont Human Rights Commission"

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