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.
Director, New Neighbors Victim Outreach Project
Public Education Coordinator, Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services
Vermont Human Rights Commission"