In these times of turmoil and unrest, we are reminded of how the Southern Police Institute (SPI) was founded. The idea came from Swedish economist and sociologist, Gunnar Myrdal. In 1944, in the midst of deep racial disparity and suffering, he proposed that "one of the most potent strategic measures to improve the southern interracial situation would be the opening of a pioneering modern police college in the South which would give a thorough social and pedagogical training as well as a technical police training" to law enforcement officers. SPI was established on this concept in 1951.
For nearly 70 years, countless law enforcement leaders from all over the globe have attended our esteemed institute on the campus of the University of Louisville and have carried the torch of progressive police practice and community engagement throughout our great nation.
As we find our way through this difficult time, the Southern Police Institute would like to show solidarity with all our citizens, particularly people of color and anyone who have been disenfranchised or have suffered from police misconduct and an imperfect system of justice. We want to recognize the tremendous sadness we feel for the murder of George Floyd at the hands of those that should have protected his right to life. Those of us at the Institute, who have worn a badge know the shame and dishonor we feel when one of our brethren violates our sacred oath.
In showing solidarity and finding a way together through our shared crisis, we stand behind our law enforcement citizens as well, with the knowledge that they have to continue their already difficult job and bear the burden of those that would tarnish the noble duty they are sworn to uphold. We know you will still be there for your communities, as you always have, even though the badge may feel a bit heavier these days.
The Southern Police Institute is dedicated to challenging our norms and meeting the current challenge with the same vigor that brought our historic institute into a reality in 1951. We face different times, but some of the same issues and the same energy must be applied. Through the building of bridges, exploration of progressive policing practices and dynamic, and rigorous education for today's police leaders, SPI will continue to lead and help create a new future for American Policing.
SPI pledges its support to do its part to bridge the divide between our communities and law enforcement through social and pedagogical training, upon which it was founded.
To all our graduates and other police officers working to protect all citizens, please stay safe. To the communities these officers serve, please stay safe as you express your concerns. Hopefully, we can make lasting positive change through working together.