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Dole Institute to host panel on militarization of American police

Thursday, November 06, 2014

LAWRENCE — The Dole Institute of Politics and its Student Advisory Board will host a moderated panel discussion on the militarization of police in America. “Oppression or Protection? The Militarization of Police in America” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, at the Dole Institute. This program is free and open to the public.

Panelists for the discussion will include Charles Huth, sergeant of the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department - Street Crimes Unit Tactical Enforcement Squad; Pedro Irigonegaray, principal attorney at Irigonegaray & Associates; Ron Miller, former chief of police for the city of Topeka and nominee for U.S. Marshal, and Dorthy Pennington, University of Kansas associate professor of African & African-American Studies and communication studies. The panel will be moderated by Dole Institute Student Advisory Board Coordinator Alex Montgomery.

“Each semester the Dole Institute Student Advisory Board is given the opportunity to present a Dole Institute forum on a hot button issue,” Montgomery said. “It is a responsibility that we take seriously by trying to address issues that are both timely and public, as well as issues that students have indicated are important to them.”

The Dole Institute program will address questions about whether war zone gear, combat vehicles and assault rifles, among other items, are appropriate types of equipment for operations by American police departments. Panelists will also look at the sociological complexities of communities seeing military gear from the battlefield being used in their neighborhoods. Panelists will provide a variety of perspectives on this timely and nationally debated question.

“The issue of police militarization crosses partisan and philosophical lines,” said Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy. “With all that has happened recently in Ferguson, Missouri, and around the country, we feel it is important to bring more information on this subject to light. We are glad that we have the opportunity to support our students in presenting this program to the public with quality expert panelists.”

Charles Huth is co-author of “Unleashing Respect — Transforming Law Enforcement and Police Training.” He has 23 years of law enforcement experience and has been involved in more than 2,000 high-risk tactical operations. He serves as president of the National Law Enforcement Training Center and is an adjunct professor for the University of Missouri-Kansas City and part-time instructor at the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Leadership Academy. He is president and CEO of CDH Consulting L.L.C., a law enforcement consulting and training company, and a senior consultant for The Arbinger Institute, an international corporation specializing in conflict resolution. Huth is an Army veteran.                         

Pedro Irigonegaray was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1948. In 1961, he traveled with his mother to the United States as a political refugee. He was raised in Topeka and graduated from high school at Kemper Military Academy in Booneville, Missouri, in 1966. He earned an associate of arts degree from the military academy in 1968, a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Washburn University in 1970 and his juris doctor from Washburn University School of Law in 1973. Upon graduation from law school and successful completion of the Kansas and Florida bar examinations, Irigonegaray began the private practice of law. His expertise is in civil rights, medical malpractice, constitutional law, regulatory law and criminal law.

Ron Miller, a native of Kansas City, Kansas, was appointed chief of police in Topeka in 2006. He recently stepped down from that position after being nominated by President Obama to be the U.S. Marshal for the District of Kansas. He is currently awaiting Senate confirmation. Miller was previously the chief of police in Kansas City, Kansas, for six years, rising through the ranks from patrol officer, where he started in 1972. Miller is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar, the Southern Police Institute and the Senior Management Institute for Policing at Harvard/Boston University. He is a member of the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington D.C., based “think tank” on policing issues. He has expertise in community policing, intelligence-led policing, counterterrorism and emergency preparedness. He has also served as a pattern and practice consultant for the U.S. Department of Justice, evaluating the practices and policies of municipal police departments. He is a past-president of the Kansas City Metro Chiefs and Sheriffs Association, and he is a member of the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police.

Dorthy Lee Pennington, a graduate of Rust College and KU, is an associate professor of African and African-American studies and communication studies at KU. She is a specialist on intercultural communication and African-American culture, the cultural discourse on trauma/terror and has taught courses on the rhetoric of African-Americans, the black woman, and black male and female communications, among others. Beyond KU, she has had teaching experiences at Texas Tech University and at the Department of Defense, where she taught courses on race relations and equal opportunity management.

The Dole Institute of Politics is dedicated to promoting public service, civic engagement and politics. It is located on KU’s west campus and includes the Robert J. Dole Archive & Special Collections. The Institute offers free public programming with world-renowned guest speakers on a variety of topics that intersect politics, as well as interactive opportunities for students of all ages.

The Dole Institute Student Advisory Board is a group of KU students united by common interests in community service, government, and politics who act to promote civic engagement and support the Dole Institute. Each semester, the SAB selects a topic and co-sponsors a program at the Dole Institute designed to explore that topic. 

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