Parkland can do better than Finney

Is former Champaign police Chief R.T. Finney really the best that Parkland College can do? The simple answer from the NAACP Champaign County Branch is “No!”

While he might possess technical knowledge about law enforcement, his past actions — being one of two officers who responded to a 2009 call that ended with Officer Daniel Norbits firing the bullet that killed 15-year-old Kiwane Carrington — should disqualify him from being a member of the faculty. He is not capable of creating a climate conducive for all students to learn — especially Black and Brown children interested in policing.

Due to the work of many caring community partners and local law enforcement, we’ve made significant progress in the areas that led to distrust of police in the Black and Brown community. We’ve discussed use-of-force policies, transparency, accountability, respect and de-escalation, among other issues, culminating in local law-enforcement agencies adopting the NAACP’s Ten Shared Principles.

Parkland professes to create a climate that “values and promotes integrity, inquiry, diversity, inclusion (and) active citizenship.” Having someone on its faculty who has left deep scars and pain in the community will not create a climate for all students that is conducive to these values. His presence only reminds students of color of the violence they have witnessed or experienced over years.

Instead of hiring someone like Finney, the college should put in a little extra effort. Find faculty members with technical competence and experience that reflect the professional virtues, values and histories — especially around diversity and racial justice — that all students can model.

There are many fine retired law-enforcement professionals who meet these standards.

Finney is one of the poorest ambassadors for a career in law enforcement that Parkland could possibly choose. The college has a responsibility to the community to do better — and it can!

MINNIE PEARSON

president, Champaign County NAACP Branch

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