Sincere apology given at council meeting

November 4, 2008 1:45:36 AM PST
In Palo Alto Monday night, the chief of police tried to calm the racial profiling controversy swirling around her, but will a public apology be enough? The NAACP attended the city council meeting.

"I sincerely apologize for the firestorm I have caused," said Palo Alto Police Chief Lynne Johnson.

Chief Johnson stood before a packed audience and publicly apologized for what she said during a town hall meeting last Thursday. The chief told the community she'd instructed her officers to approach and question African-Americans on the street in Palo Alto because of a recent string of muggings in the city.

"I commit to the community, to every city member of the city council and to the members of my department that I will do everything humanly possible to correct the damage I have caused," said Chief Johnson.

"The police chief unfortunately made some really inappropriate comments that are not reflective of the City of Palo Alto's values and practices," said Palo Alto City Manager James Keene.

Keene suggested the council reiterate and reaffirm the city's zero tolerance stance on racial profiling. He also wants an independent auditor to review that policy.

"I was glad to hear the chief apologize, I think it was sincere it was thoughtful," said Sally Dickson, from Stanford University's Department of Student Affairs.

As part of the chief's plan to make amends, she promises to meet with area church and student groups, but for members of Stanford's NAACP, it's still not enough.

"Those comments and the racial insensitivity that came out through those really shine light on a lot of problems we're starting to ignore," said Michelle Odemwingie, from Stanford's NAACP.

There are several people who think the police chief needs to go through diversity training or diversity awareness classes, but the city says it's too early to take specific action against the police chief.

The chief will report back to the council in two weeks.


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