LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND THE TOWN OF WALPOLE ANNOUNCE NEW TRAINING TECHNIQUES
BOSTON — Today, in response to a complaint filed on behalf of John-Paul Wahnon, the Walpole Police Department announced that it has instituted new training techniques and best practices, including comprehensive implicit bias training, to ensure procedural fairness. The Town will also pay damages to Mr. Wahnon. Mr. Wahnon’s attorneys at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice applauded the Town’s action as a positive and forward-looking move.
Mr. Wahnon is a professional career counselor who has worked for multi-national corporations in New York and Los Angeles, as well as for the Commissioner of Major League Soccer. On August 13, 2016, after Mr. Wahnon left a shopping center in Walpole, Massachusetts, a police officer followed him for approximately fifteen minutes as he drove to his mother’s house in Westwood, Massachusetts. Moments before he entered Westwood, Mr. Wahnon was stopped by Walpole police. He was removed from his vehicle and frisked, and his car was searched. He later filed a complaint with the Walpole Police Department, alleging racial profiling.
Walpole Police Department Chief John F. Carmichael issued the following apology to Mr. Wahnon:
“On behalf of the Walpole Police Department, I extend a sincere apology to Mr. John Paul Wahnon for his experience with our department. At the Walpole Police Department, our core mission is to treat all citizens equally. In doing so, we strive to meet the four pillars of procedural justice: fairness, impartiality, voice, and transparency. When a citizen finds these core tenants were not met, our legitimacy as a police department is weakened.
In response to Mr. Wahnon’s complaint, we will redouble our efforts toward achieving police legitimacy, procedural justice and value-based policing through enhanced policies, procedures and training. The issues raised by Mr. Wahnon will make us a better police department.
John F. Carmichael, Chief of Police
Walpole Police Department”
“Walpole’s decision to implement bias training is an excellent example of how cities and police departments can respond to issues of racial inequity,” said Sophia Hall, a Staff Attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee representing Mr. Wahnon.
Attorney Hall stated that the Lawyers’ Committee will encourage other local police departments in the Commonwealth to follow the Town’s lead in adopting proactive reforms that ensure appropriate treatment of all citizens of the Commonwealth. In addition to the Lawyers’ Committee, Mr. Wahnon was also represented pro bono by Colin Van Dyke at Anderson & Kreiger and Erica Coray at Mintz Levin.