HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Hutchinson Police Chief Jeffrey Hooper said he doesn’t like to hash out things in the media, but a letter that has been sent to the department and the city by a local resident had the chief responding. The letter was from Teresa Delgado. She accused the department of not working on improving race relations.
The letter was from what Delgado called the Justice Initiative Youth Council. Delgado's letter says the police department has refused to work with people of color to better things in Hutchinson.
Chief Hooper responded with this statement:
A member of our community, Teresa Delgado, has made several accusations and in my opinion attacked the integrity of the Hutchinson Police Department. While it is not our practice to debate through the media, I felt it important for the citizens of Hutchinson to understand the steadfast dedication the Hutchinson Police Department has to protecting and supporting equal rights for all our citizens.
Ms. Delgado claims that we have “sidelined” her and refused to work with people of color. Ms. Delgado's statements are inflammatory and devoid of facts. Over the last two plus years the Hutchinson Police Department has worked tirelessly with the NAACP, Hutch in Harmony, the Human Relations Officer, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We meet consistently with these organizations to work towards positive change within our community. In addition, the Hutchinson Police Department has a citizen’s advisory board (CAB) made up of mostly minorities and persons of color. We meet with the CAB monthly to discuss issues of police-minority relations, law enforcement reform, policies, use of force, crime, hiring practices, and in fact touch on every aspect of the Police Department. In conjunction with all these organizations the Hutchinson Police Department has supported and participated in numerous events designed to create positive change within our community.
Over this past year myself and members of these amazing organizations had several meetings with Ms. Delgado. We have invited her and strongly encouraged her to join us and our cause to create positive change in Hutchinson. On multiple occasions Ms. Delgado has refused to be a part of this joint effort. Instead, Ms. Delgado has held numerous rallies and events, some of which have been designed to create civil unrest and to break down the positive advances that these other organizations have worked so hard to achieve. During some of these events Ms. Delgado has verbally and physically assaulted other members of our community. She has even verbally assaulted children. Her actions go beyond the protections of freedom of speech. However, we understand that this is a very emotionally charged issue. We have given Ms. Delgado a lot of leniency and latitude to voice her opinions. And instead of taking enforcement action we have focused on creating a safe and harmonious environment where all voices can be heard.
Ms. Delgado is correct that the Hutchinson Police Department has refused to align ourselves with her group and her cause as we believe it goes against the efforts of this community to create positive change. We have and will continue to protect Ms. Delgado’s rights and all citizens. I continue to encourage Ms. Delgado to join in the community efforts to create positive change as opposed to her independent actions that strive to destroy our progress. When Ms. Delgado is willing to come to the table and work for the betterment of the great City of Hutchinson we will most certainly welcome her. But as long as she continues her assault on our community and our mission of bringing people together, the Hutchinson Police Department will distance ourselves from her cause.
Chief Jeffrey C. Hooper
Hooper was responding to the below letter from Teresa Delgado. Hutch Post omitted the letter in the original post.
Open Letter to Hutchinson Police dated December 31, 2020
On December 30th, 2020, Teresa Delgado - a Latina member of The Justice Initiative Youth Council received an e-mail from Captain Thad Pickard that showed him sidelining Teresa's concerns and efforts to build bridges between the communities that are struggling with their police department. In his e-mail, he declines to attend the meeting that he and Teresa had already arranged and proceeded to sideline her, he then implied that she could not be reasoned with and that she was not striving for effective and positive change within her community and revealed that he would prefer to work with organizations that do not have BIPOC leading them. Teresa was silenced by Captain Pickard and this is not something that should be taken lightly because racism isn't just shouting slurs, enslavement, genocide, and the multitude of events and actions that have been done to people of color. Racism is also silencing the voices of people within POC communities, upholding racial stereotypes that we cannot be reasoned with and that we are aggressive, and blatantly refusing to work with people of color.
Those who are not people of color cannot effectively represent us, when you're not a person of color you have absolutely no idea of the culture and the struggles that we go through daily. To build long-lasting bridges between communities, we must be included in the discussions that are taking place so that we can ensure that our issues and struggles are being acknowledged to create something sustainable. All change is uncomfortable, but we must put people of color in charge and upfront on issues of social justice and change because we are the ones who need it the most. When our voices are silenced change does not happen, it just gives the government and the police the ability to speak over us and diminish our issues as well as creating solutions that are not sustainable, and often those solutions are just the result of bare minimum effort from those who don't want change and just want things to continue as they have been because these issues that we are facing do not affect them or the people that they love.
We as an organization we find these actions are not in alignment with true justice and change. We ask that the police department addresses the issues of internalized racism and sexism within their department so that we can strive for a better future. We believe that change is possible and that if we work together on these issues we can solve them. We hope for the absolute best out of this situation, we hope that they will take this opportunity to change and we have faith that they will but the decision to grow and change is up to them.
Teresa Delgado Executive Director of Central & Western Kansas Justice Initiative Youth Council